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REPORT OF THE TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNSTTE, 
FOR HOMICIDE. 



By 



James Thomas Dejarnette 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 
State Library of North Carolina 



http://www.archive.org/details/reportoftrialofjOOdeja 



NortK Carolina Sfafe Lih 



Raleigh 



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REPORT OF THE TRIAL 



-OF- 



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Mrnette. 



-FOR- 



HOMICIDE. 



WITH AN APPENDIX. 



By EUGENE GRISSOlVf, M. D., LL. D. 



KALEIGH, N. O. 



Reprint from North Carolina Medical Journal, 

CTTJIsTIB, laSl. 



^'l^'-^^4^^ 



North Carolina State Library 





REPORT 



-OF THE^ 



TRIAL OF JAIJIES THOMAS DEJARNETTE, 



FOR HOMICIDE, AT DANVILLE, VA. 



By Eugene Grissom, M. D., LL. D., Kaleigh, N. C. 



On the 8'h of July, 1880, about 11: 30 P. M.,, James Thomas 
Dejarnette killed his sister, Miss :i[ollic Dejarnette, by firing five 
shots into her body, from a pistol, in a house of ill-fame, known as 
" Blonde Hall"' in the town of Danville, Ya. Miss Dejarnette lived 
several days before death ensued. 

Thomas Dejarnette surrendered to the officers of the law in the 
room where the homicide occurred, and was tried in the Hustings 
Court of Danville, September Gth, following. The defence was in- 
sanity of the prisoner, and the verdict of the jury pronounced the 
prisoner guilty of murder. Exceptions to the rulings of the judge 
were successfully taken, and the cass was remanded for new trial, 
by the Virginia Court of Appeals. 

The case was called for trial April 13, 1881, before the Hon. A. 
M. Aiken, Judge of the Hustings Court of Danville. A jury was 



2 TRl/L\(3£^*iA3nfES i'^cf^^^-S VEJASjlTEfTErEfE-d^ HOMICIDE. 

obtained thd^fiext day,'A^<^^the ^ase Qpqned Qgaiita.st the prisoner by 
Mr, John J).' BlaVkvY^eil/ ttie'Ocmni©ilTvle,#tb'5 Sktiovney. The lead- 
ing facta of the homicide were fully proved and admitted. 

The prisoner, while at Brown Summit, on duty as agent of that 
station of the Richmond and Danville R, E., had received a letter 
from his greatly beloved sister, informing him that she was in 
Blonde Hall, and urging him to come and take her away, she had 
been there about ten days. In twenty minutes he was on his way 
by rail to the spot, 30 miles distant; on reaching Danville, he re- 
paired to the house, entered her room, and instantly fired upon her, 
five successive shots. Slio had greeted him, and gone into the room 
witli him. 

The testimony for the prosecution contains the following, which 
is briefly condensed : 

W. A. Watson : " Was a member of the police at the time of the 
shooting. Mr. Cox and I were on duty that night." (The witness 
described hearing five shots, locating the sound at Blonde Hall, and 
entering.) ''Went to the door, on landing above, found it locked in- 
side, and ordered the parties to open it. Some one replied that it 
would only be opened to an officer.'' (On being assured that they 
were officers, Dejarnette said that the key was lost and they would 
hove to break the door open.) 

" I failed to state that when we first demanded admittance De- 
jarnette said he had three balls left for any one who would come in. 
AVhen I opened the door he was standing in front, five or six feet of 
it, a pistol in his right hand, which hung by his side."' 

'• I aiked hid) what he had done, said he had shot his sister and his 
neck was then ready for the State of North Carolina. I told him 
then that \vc would liave to take him and lock him up. He begged 
to let him remain until the doctor came, for whom we had already 
hcnt a mc.fenger. We let liim remain until Dr. Hoyt came. 

" lie asked Dr. Hoyt to do all he could for her, and, I think, said 
he would sec him paid. After we had started his sister asked him 
to kiss her. He leaned over on the bed, and, I think, she put her 
arms around his neck, and one of them remarked that it was '"'the 
kiss of death.' We then left with him, not before he remarked to 
her that he was sorry to see lier suffer so much, that he wanted to 
kill her ontri.frht. 



*ritiAL OF JAMES THOMAS deJarntStte For. liOiilClDfi. o 

" The iDvisoner said something to Lelia Lester about her being the 
landlady of the house, asking her if she induced his sister to go 
there, but I don't recollect her reply." ("Another witness testi- 
fied that Mollie said : 'No, brother, she never persuaded me.'") 
"He said he killed his sister to retrieve the honor of his father and 
himself. Said he had done a great deal for his sister, that he had 
educated her, sold his watch to get money for her, that he had re- 
ceived a letter from her that day stating where she was, and begging 
him to come after her, that he telegraphed to Eichmond for per- 
mission to leave his office, and was refused, but that he determined 
to come anyhow; left Brown Summit with the intention of kill- 
ing his sister, and that he was then ready to suffer any penalty that 
the laws of Virginia might visit upon him. All the chambers of 
the pistol were empty when I took it from him. His bearing was 
cool and deliberate, very deliberate, and he seemed to be self-pos- 
sessed, intelligent and knew what he was talking about. I was at 
the train which brought him to Danville, and it was about thirty 
minutes after its arrival, before I heard the shots." 

Drs. Franklin George and J. P. Hoyt, attending physicians de- 
scribed the wounds, two in the back below the ribs, one between the 
breasts, one on the collar bone, and the fifth through the left hand, 
also stated the treatment and subsequent death. In Dr. Hoyt's 
testimony appears the following : 

" I found Mollie Dejarnette, two officers and her brother in the 
room." Before making an examination I asked : " What does all 
this mean ? and her brother replied that he had done the deed, and 
had simply done what he thought w^as his duty. She said : ' Yes, 
he shot me, and I want him forgiven for what he has done.'" 
"The officers started to take him to jail, when Mollie embraced him 
asked him to give her ' a farewell kiss,' he said : •' Yes, a kiss of 
death.' On the night of the shooting, the prisoner was perfectly 
self-possessed, calm and quiet, exhibiting no nervous excitement^ 
anger, or any other peculiar characteristic. He never said in my 
presence why he thought it his duty to kill his sister ; at the time 
he made the remark, 'the kiss of death,' he seemed intelligent 
calm and rational." 

Dr. Hoyt stated that he had a further interview witli Dejarnette, 
in which the prisonerj while in jail told him that he had locked 



4 TRIAL OF James THO:^tAS DEJARiq-ilfTE tOR HOMICIDE. 

the door of his sister's room, because he did not want to be attacked 
by such characters as visit those houses, and that if he had to suf- 
fer, he wished it to be by the law and not the hands of a mob. 

E, M. Lowrie, policeman at Blonde Hall from the night of the 
Sth, after the homicide, until the day of Miss Dejarnette's death 
on the 16th of July. After repeating the circumstances of the 
night befoie, the witness said he had taken Dcjarnette from jail the 
next day to see his sister. 

" When we reached the room, ho walked around tiie bed, took a 
scat near the bedside. She seemed to be asleep. Prisoner took up 
a newspaper as if to read. In a few moments she opened her eyes 
and said : 'Good morning, brother, how are you this morning?' 
He replied, ' Very well.' She then again closed her eyes for a few 
moments. She asked him if he had received her letter. He re- 
plied, yes, he got it about twenty minutes before he left Brown 
Summit. She asked : ' Why did you not give me time to explain 
myself after the first shot ?' She said: 'You do not know how 
much I have suffered.' He said : ' I came down to keep you from 
suffering ; you have a young sister that is as pure as spring water, 
and I came down to make an example of you.' Kev. Mr. Peterson 
then interrupted and the conversation stopped." 

The witness stated in the course of his testimony, that upon 
questioning Dejarnette as to wliether he was drunk the night before, 
he replied, " that he was not, that he was as cool as that time, that 
he was not in the habit of getting drunk ; that he sometimes took 
took two or three drinks a day." 

Subsequently he was taken to see his sister again, and he asked 
her to tell him who her seducer was. 

She asked him when Ave got there if she should state it in public- 
she would tell it any way he wanted. He requested that only Capt. 
Hatcher and myself remain in the room. She then told him that 
Edwin Luther Dechert was the man, Harrisonburg the place, and 
the time 1878, and the promise, marriage. No manifestation of any 
remorse was ever visible. I certainly thought he was sane enough 
to know right from wrong." 

Lelia Lester, the keeper of the house of ill-fame, testified to sub- 
stantially the same account of the shooting as we have given in other 
testimony. She said she picked up the key, lying immediately by 



iRIAL OF JAllieS THOMAS DEJAEiS"EtTE FOR HOMICIDE. i> 

the doov within. She also said : " When the police started to take 
him out, he stooped over her and said something, I don't remember 
what, and she begged liim to let her put her arms around him and 
hug him, and said she loved every drop of blood in his body." 

P. G. Burton, Esq., editor of the Danville News, testified to his 
presence at the interview on the 9th, between the prisoner and his 
sister. The following points, not elsewhere referred to, are found 
in his testimony : 

" After awhile the minister sent for arrived, and when he began 
to point out the consolations of religion, Dejarnette for the first 
time showed emotion and broke down in tears. After awhile the 
minister, Kev. Mr. Peterson, offered up a prayer. Dejarnette leaned 
forward with his head in his hands, and his hands on his knees." 

Mr. Burton also said that Dejarnette made a statement of the 
affair to him. After repeating the events as narrated, he said that: 
'■' accompanied by a negro guide, he found ' Blonde Hall,' knocked 
at the door, asked for Mollie who came out and met him, went to 
her room, entered, shut the door, locked it, threw away the key, 
drew his pistol, 'and I don't know what happened afterwards' were 
his exact v/ords." 

Jennie Smith, who nursed the wounded girl, Capt. Hatcher who 
corroborated the evidence of policem.an E. M. Lowrie, and Mr. Cox, 
who identified the weapon used, were the remaining witnesses for 
the prosecution. The testimony was voluminous, but the essential 
facts are contained in the above statement. 

What could be the key to the extraordinary and almost unpar- 
alled act in a brother who thus shot a living and most dearly be- 
loved sister ? Not unnaturally, the utmost horror was expressed, 
the press called for speedy vindication of violated law, crowds 
thronged about the place of trial, and the popular voice seemed to 
anticipate the verdict of guilty. Few there were, perhaps, who 
fully knew the history of the prisoner at the bar, or asked them- 
selves if the recognized natural history of sane human conduct was 
compatible with such a deed, in view of his past life from childhood. 

James Thomas Dejarnette, was born August 1st, 1860, and is, 
therefore, in his 21st year. In a very high degree, for several gen- 
erations back, he inherited the insane susceptibility, on both the 
paternal and maternal sides of his ancestry. At the death of his 



6 tRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS t)EJAR]SrETTE JFOR lIO^itlCIDE. 

father in 1873, the family fell from its respected position, (the 
father having been a physician,) into absolute want. This unhappy 
prisoner, then a boy of thirteen, devoted himself to the task of pro- 
viding for his insane mother, and homeless sisters. He gave his 
scanty earnings for their support cheerfully. The poor girl who now 
fills a bloody grave was the object of the most devoted brotherly 
love. He sent her to school, he obtained homes among people of 
character and position, where her services were received in compen- 
sation for the comforts of life ; he sold a watch which was the gift 
of a friend, to comply with her desire to furnish her means to leave 
Harrisonburg, whither she had originally gone without the knowl- 
edge of her friends. 

Meantime those most closely associated with him in his home at 
Brown Summit recognize a change in his original character ; he be- 
comes moody, grows sleepless, is rambling, flighty and fitful in con- 
versation, neglects his business, attempts impossible inventions, im- 
agines himself the victim of various diseases, writes incoherent 
romances, changes in expression and manner, and draws upon him- 
self the attention of persons who predict his speedy fall into insan- 
ity, without knowing anything of his family history, and from six 
to twelve months before the eventful day of the homicide. Among 
his striking delusions are a proposal to invent a machine to load 
and unload railway cars at full speed, and a sch.cmo to secure per- 
petual motion, and to build an engine in thirty days, with some tin 
wheels and such material. 

His sister has disappeared. Absent for some time ; when he be- 
lieves her to be in Charlotte, N. C, or at home, he suddenly re- 
ceived a letter written from the dismal depths of infamy, in a house 
of ill-fame, in Danville. In a few minutes he is on his way, and 
the loving brother who had toiled for years in the hope to render 
his sister a pearl and ornament of society has sent five successive 
messengers of death into the bosom that his boyish head had nestled 
against in confidence and affection so long. 

Was this the behavior of a sane man, or had his long suspended 
ancestral doom fallen upon his head ? 

Let us recite the testimony for the defence, and decide this ques- 
tion by the clear cold light of truth. 

The testimony for the defence occupied several days, the material 
facts being as follows : 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJAK^TETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 7 

"W. L. Tally : "Have known Mrs. Dejarnette, mother of the pris- 
oner, for fifteen years. She lived on one side of the road, and I on 
the other, for live years. Saw her frequently ; have believed she 
was insane for tJie last five or six years. Have seen her come out in 
her yard, roll up her sleeves, pop her fist and rear and pitch around, 
with no one present for her to quarrel with. These spells were fre- 
quent and violent. Ilcr language was profane, bitter and vulgar. 
Slie v,'ould as soon sell a piece of property worth -SlOOfor $5, as not ; 
in fact, that was the way she got rid of her money. She now wan- 
ders to and fro all over the country. I know the prisoner sent her 
and her daughters, frequently, provisions, for her support, and some- 
times money. Mollie and Thomas were quite small when their 
father died. I was with him wlien he died, about seven or eight 
years ago." 

On the cross-examination, witness said : "'Mrs. Dejarnette rares 
and rants now. Have seen drunken men do the same thing. Don't 
suppose she could get whiskey every time she carried on. She used 
to do this in Dr. Dejarnettc's life-time. I have no doubt at all of 
her being insane." 

J. R. Ferrell, examined : "I have known Mrs. Martha Dejar- 
nette all my life. Have seen her frequently. I have thought at 
times she was partially deranged, because of her talk and actions, 
loud and boisterous, slapping of hands, and scattering ideas on 
almost any subject. She has no capacity in business. Her fits of 
violence liave increased since I knew her. She would give things 
away or sell them for little or nothing. I heard tliat the prisoner 
assisted his mother and her fainily once a week after he went to 
Brown Summit.''' 

Cross-examined, tlie witness said : "In the paroxysms of rage 
she did not appear to be rational. She has not been regarded, that 
I know of, as a woman of bad character and intemperate habits. 
Have had no experience at all with insane people." 

S. S. Harrison, examined : "I live in Caswell county, N. C. 
Have known the defendant and family some time. C. K. Harri- 
son, her great granl-father, I kept at my house several years while 
he was deranged. Ho was dangerously violent — had to be confined 
and guarded. I kept li'm until his son finished school and took 
him to his home. One of his half-sisters was deranged, mildly and 
peaceab'V so. 



8 -TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

" The children of C. K. Harrison were two, Thos. B., iind Mary. 
Mary was the grandmother of the defendant. I knew her mental 
condition to be nnsonnd, and she was thought to be deranged by 
her relations. Mary Harrison married Aaron Blackard. She bad 
one child, Martha, the mother of the defandant. 

'■'C. K. Harrison's wife's brother was snbject to epileptic convul- 
sions. Sister also." 

K. M. Price examined : "Knew Charles K. Harrison. He was 
deranged, very violently. Knew his children, Thos. D. and Mary. 
She was said to be deranged. Has been dead 30 3^ears. Went to 
school with Thos. D. Harrison. There was something peculiar 
about him. I have seen him laugh immoderately at things that no 
one else enjoyed. Died during the war.'' 

In relation to the paternal ancesti-y of Dejarnctte, the testimony 
was subsequently given of 

James P. Dejarnette : '■' Am first cousin to the prisoner. His 
father had only one brother, my father. He is called insane by 
physicians. Is incapable of attending to businoss. I have appl-'ed 
for a guardian at law for him. 

"Prisoner and his sister Mollie were kind and affectionate up to 
the day of the shooting. He educated her, boarded her in Reids- 
ville, N". C. Of the two sisters, Mollie, the deceased, was his 
favorite. 

"Father's condition mentally, has been bad for some time, but 
worse for the last four or five months. lie takes up notions that 
his neighbors or some of his family are about to kill him. He was 
taken with this last attack in Charlotte county. He wa? carried 
home by force when he was brought back." 

Cross-examined : " I did not know that Mollie left, licr mother's 
house in April, 1880, to come to Danville to live." 

This closed the testimony in relation to the hereditary predispo- 
sition to insanity. Dejarnette's farther liistory will be traced in tlio 
following testimony : 

F. S. Woodson : "I am a telegi'aj)h operator. Defendant was 
under my management when he entered the business. He was about 
14. Received 15 a month as messenger boy. It took all his money 
at first to pay his board. He boarded witli an old colored woman 
by which he reduced his board to 12.50, the other he gave to his 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 9 

mother. Afterwards he arranged to keep the books of the old 
woman and then he saved all his wages and gave it to his mother, 
and relied np :n his errand money for pocket change. He slept m 
Price's factoiv. He declared his purpose to be, to better the condi- 
tion of his ni >ther and sisters. Eemained until March, 1876, two 
years. Went to work with me then in a tobacco factory. Went 
back to the t, legraph office, and then to Pelliam, as an assistant. I 
gave him mor) wages, and he seemed grateful and said it would 
help him to t,.kc care of his mother and sisters. 

r. G. Chilcott : "I am a teacher. Lived last year near Brown 
Summit. K'.own the prisoner since May, 1877, acquaintance inti- 
mate, instructed him in duties as agent. Met the deceased at Brown 
Summit. She came on a visit to her brother and he boarded her 
with private families. Prisoner's mental condition was good, when 
he came to Brown Summit. He changed, however. The first thing 
I noticed was in the fall or winter of 1879-80, when he told me he 
was writing a book. Called it ' a romance,' asked me to correct it 
for the press, gave me manuscripts which I examined and returned. 
He wrote to Harper Bros, about publishing, and they declined. No 
sense or meaning in it. ISTo subject. No connection. 

''Afterwards showed me model of an invention of a wardrobe, 
which was a piece of flannel and some timber nailed together, and 
without utility. Confident of success and that his patent would 
pay handsomely. At another time, had some blocks of wood in 
his office, with which he said he was going to invent perpetual 
motion. Did not explain, but seemed interested and confident. He 
had a greater disposition to be alone. At times more talkative, at 
others scarcely saying anything at all, to his most intimate friends. 
Change so marked it attracted my attention. Greatly melancholy. 
Know of no cause for it. Attempted some invention about the 
telegraph. I could see no sense in his incoherent explanation of it, 
with a piece of woods with a hole in it. I heard of other inventions 
but did not see them. I heard it spoken of that he intended to load 
and unload passenger trains while going at full speed. Freqnentlj 
staid all night with him. He was sleepless, depressed and melan- 
choly, and his conversation flighty at times. He wrote to Dr. Cra- 
ven, asking what books and education were necessary to become a 
lawyer. Asked me to teach him Latin. I bought a grammar for 



10 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJAKN"ETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

him, but could never get him to recite a h>sson. From these facts 
I thought his mind unsound. I and others spoke of these pecu- 
liarities at the time. Never expressed opinion until the shooting in 
Danville. The general impression around Brown Summit was that 
there was something wrong with the man. This was six or eight 
months before the shooting. DejarneLte drank some. I saw him 
drunk about three times — at a tournament, when an excursion came 
in and one other time. I do not think his eccentricities were trace- 
able to drink. I staid with him the last night he slept at Brown 
Summit. He was sleepless and restless."' 

The witness remarked that Dejarnette slept less than any man he 
ever saw. Frequently hardly four hours out of twenty- four. 

Cross-examined by prosecution : " I generally went to bed first 
and rose first. He never assigned any cause for depression. Hava 
heard he was in love with a girl at Brown Summit. Attended to 
his business as usual. T don't know anything about electricity. 
JSTever made a wardrobe, and knew nothing of machinery. Had no 
experience with insane people.'' 

Commonwealth's attorney asked witness if he had ever read the 
Book of Eevelation. Witness said he had. " Do you comprehend 
and understand all that is written therein ?'" "No sir." "Then 
do you reason on that account that the author of that book v/as in- 
sane?" Witness said he had not thought of the matter in that 
light. 

F. G. Chilcott, re-called on succeeding day : " Prisoner told me 
while at Brown Summit, he had given three or four hundred dol- 
lars to support his mother and sisters. His salary was not uniform, 
sometimes $30, sometimes 140. The prisoner smoked right smart. 
Don't know that it was excessive." 

P. G. Chilcott examined : "I am brother of last witness. Live 
near Brown Summit. Known prisoner intimately since 1877. 
When I first knew him, was very intelligent and a great talker. 
About March, 1880, I noticed a change in him. Was melancholy. 
Didn't want company His conversation became scattering. I 
heard these peculiarities spoken of by others before I noticed them. 
In March, 1880, he showed me some tin wheels and other little ma- 
chinery, and said he was going to make a steam engine. Was to 
finish it in thirty days. A few days after, in reply to my inquiry, 



TRIAL OV JAMES THOMAS DEJAKNETTE FOR IIOMtCID^. ll 

said he had not had time to finish it. This was the last I heard of 
it. Afterwards showed me timber, and said he had fallen on a plan 
to create perpetual motion. Never explained, but was certain he 
could accomplish it. T3on't think I ever heard him talking about a 
wardrobe." 

On cross-examination the witness said that there was a difference 
between the prisoner's present expression, and when he last saw him 
at Brown Summit, when he "had a wild look." 

Dr. R. K. Denny examined : ''Live near Brown Summit. Prac- 
tice physic. Been a doctor for 31 years. Known the defendant 
ever since he came to Brown Summit. Was his physician. Saw 
nothing to attract attention for eighteen months. Twelve months 
before he killed his sister, he asked me to examine his lungs. Said 
some doctor had told him he had tubercles. Saw him half a dozen 
times afterward but he said nothing more about that. Requested 
me three different times to examine him. I didn't notice much the 
matter then. Asked me to examine his breast. Thought he had 
heart disease. Several months after, wanted me to examine for 
disease of the liver. Found him bilious and prescribed. Noticed 
after this that he neglected his business. Was uncommunicative. 
He thought his diseases would kill him. He suffered from sperm- 
tohorrhct'a, and I prescribed. The last eight months he seemed 
depressed. Sought to be alone. In conversation he would com* 
meuce on one subject and jump to another. His spells of dejection 
increased in frequency. His conduct was so different, it attracted 
my particular attention. Twelve months before the tragedy, 1 sjjoke 
of it to my family ; remarked that sooner or later he would become 
deranged. At this time, I knew nothing whatever of the history of 
his family. My opinion was based solely on his conduct. Saw no 
improvement in his actions. Think his mental condition was un- 
sound. Was first approached by Col. Withers of the prisoner's 
counsel, at Brown Summit. Did not know him at the time. JPrls- 
oner spoke to me about the engine he intended to invent. Did not 
explain it." 

Cross-examined by prosecution : Did not examine prisoners lungs 
or heart. Satisfied his complaints were imaginary. He described 
the symptoms of spermatorrhoea and I gave him treatment. He 
was discharged for disobedience, going to Greensborough without 



ii TllIAL OF iHOMAS JAMES i)E.JARNETTE FOU HOlhOlDE. 

permission and neglect of business. AVas paying court to a ladv 
near Brown Summit in October, 1879, and for several months before 
the tragedy. Have not had much practice with lunatics." 

The other witnesses for the defence were Mr. Steel, a hotel keeper 
of Greensborough with whom Dejarnette boarded during his trip to 
that town in May, 1880, Avho stated from various reasons his impres- 
sion that the prisoner's mind was not balanced at that time. He had 
heard the inventions spoken of, and Miss Annie Dejarnette, the 
surviving sister of the prisoner, who testified as follows : 

" My brother has always been kind to my sister. Did everything 
he could for her. Sold his watch and sent her to school at Eeids- 
ville. Got her several good homes, one at Mrs. Joe Lawson's, and 
another at Col. Thos. Holt's in Alamance, X. C. He has supported 
mother ever since he came to Danville ; mother and sister too. He 
always did this up to last July. Keceived a telegram in Kocking- 
ham county, N. C, of my sister's condition on the 9th of July. 
Came to Danville and visited her. 

Cross-examined by prosecution : Sister would be nineteen on the 
loth of May, if living. She lived part-of the time in the two years 
previous to her death with Mrs. Saunders, in the Pace building ; 
also in Charlotte, with Miss Lawson, afterwards with mother. I 
saw her at mother's in April, 1880. She lived in Danville from 
April to July. Do not know where she was living or what she was 
doing. Do not know that my mother or brother did. My brother 
during this time, never wrote to me or mother, giving us any intel- 
ligence of my sister. Had not corresponded with lier for six 
months. Have no reason to believe that my mother knew of my 
sister's intentions when she left home. Xone of us knew that Mollie 
had left Danville with Mr. Dechert's family until she had been gone 
about a week. Went about Christmas and came back in the spring. 
Do not know that brother said he would kill sister if she fell into 
evil habits. Xever heard of the warning until I saw it in the papers, 
nor until I came to Danville this time. Sister MoHie was very fond 
of brother. I know brother did not correspond with sister from 
April up to the time of the tragedy. Brother sent money to Har- 
risonburg to bring sister home. I don't know that mother informed 
brother of her leaving home in April." 

The defence, after the statements of the witnesses to the facts of 



tiiiAL or ^AiiEs Thomas dejarnette fok homicide. 1 



the homicide, introduced expert testimony as follows, from two 
l)hysicians, who had been present throughout tlie trial, and heard 
all the evidence : 

Dr. E. K. Gregory, examined : " Was a graduate of the University 
of Kew York. Have been practicing medicine twenty odd years. 
Commenced practicing in Cuba, returned to United States, was in 
the U. S. military service before the war. During the Avar, was a 
surgeon in the Confederate army, in charge of hospitals at Char- 
lotte, N. C. JSTative of A'irginia, near Drury's Bluff. Made the 
human mind a study for fifteen years, first induced to do so, by 
being called to investigate the case of Ray, who killed his wife in 
Mecklenburg county, X. C, about that time." 

Q. "If the statements of the several witnesses as to the exis- 
tence of insanity in the ancestors of the prisoner, and his own con- 
dition, acts and declarations preceding, at the time of, and since 
the killing of the deceased, are proved, and if the jury are satisfied 
of the truth of them, can you as a physician, form an opinion as 
to the mental condition of the prisoner at the killing of the 
deceased ? " 

A. "I can.'' 

Q. '' What is your opinion ?"' 

A. " I believe he was insane." 

Q. '' What was the nature and character of that insanity; and 
what state of the mind did it indicate ? *' 

A. " It was delusional insanity — he was under an insane delu- 
sion. All the faculties of his mind were impaired."' 

Q. "Assuming the evidence to be true, please indicate specific- 
ally the symptoms and facts therein, upon wliich you base your 
opinion ? " 

A. "There were two causes, predisposing and exciting. First, 
heredity, or hereditary taint, existing in his system as shown by the 
witnesses who testified as to the condition of his ancestors ; next, 
his ill-health or impaired health, great loss of sleep, extreme wake- 
fulness, his inventions, nonsensical books of romances, invention of 
perpetual motion (I mean attempts, any attempt at the invention of 
perpetual motion would be strong ground alone for suspicion of 
insanity), his device for a wardrobe, telegraphic instrument he 
thought he had invented, his device for loading and unloading 



i4 iRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNBTTE FOR HOMICIUE. 

passenger trains while going at fall speed, imagining himself suf- 
fering from various diseases, and in reality suffering from some, his 
melancholy, disposition to be alone, frequently very talkative and 
then very reticent, the change in his habits and temperament from 
what they were before. There may be others with which I have not 
charged my memory particularly. 

'' And then in that condition of mind, and body, he suddenly re- 
ceives the intelligence of the downfall of a loved and favorite sis- 
ter — that she was in a brothel — and this shock, or exciting cause 
developed insane delusion, and under its impulse he committed the 
act. These are not all of my reasons for forming this opinion. The 
nature and character of the act itself is indicative of insanity. His 
cool, calm, and indifferent manner to his sister and those around 
him, making no effort to escape, but justifying himself by stating 
that he believed he had done his duty, and thathedidit to retrieve 
the honor of himself and his family, for the good of his sister whom 
he killed, and for the good of his younger sister, that it might be a 
warning to her, and his readiness to surrender himself into the 
hands of the law. It is the aggregation of circumstances, not the 
details, that make up the opinion." 

Dr. Gregory then explained spermatorrho3a. He also staled that 
he had lived in Guilford county for six years. Knew Dr. Denny's 
character to be good, reputation good. Dr. Denny was County 
Commissioner of Guilford county. Mr. Chilcott's character was 
good. AVas not attending the trial as a paid expert. Came at the 
solicitation of the friends of the defendant in IS^orth Carolina. 

Dr. Gregory was cross-examined at length by the prosecution. In 
reply to questions he stated that a delusion is a false idea, the result 
of a disease of the brain, in which the mental faculties are per- 
verted or impaired. A man might under this delusion conceive 
the idea that he was compelled to kill his child, father, sister or any 
relation, and under that impulse, not having sufficient control of 
his will, execute it, or do the killing. 

He was closely pressed with questions as to the power of deliber- 
ation remaining to the insane mind, in connection with the recital 
of the case according to the theory of the prosecution, that it was 
deliberate murder. His reply was : 

'' I admit that a man could do all that, and yet be compelled by 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 15 

a delusional impulse to commit the act which he started out to 
accomplish. He could deliberate ouly on one point." 

Q, '' What is the difference and how is it detected, between 
delusional insanity and moral turpitude ?" 

A. " Delusional insanity is the result of a disease of the physi- 
cal system, and the other the result of ignorance or education." 

The witness did not believe in moral insanity at all. Had treated 
about a dozen cases of insanity. Did not believe in emotional in- 
sanity — had never seen a case of it. Questioned as to his views of 
the case from the atrocity of the act, the witness said that he took 
in connection with such an act, the kind relations between the man 
and his sister, and his conduct afterwards. 

Q. By the Court, " Does your science, sir, hold that hariarity 
is an excuse for crime ? '" 

A. '^ It does not. But cri-mes committed by the insane are 
generally very barbarous in character.'' 

After farther questions, in relation to the bearings of mechanical 
talent or poetic genius npon insanity, the witness was asked the 
following : 

Q. "If I understand you correctly, you lay it down as an un- 
questionable principle of science tiiat whenever the ancestry have 
been proved to be insane, all of their offspring necessarily inherit 
the insanity of their parents, or a predisposition to insanity, or in 
other words, an insane temperament, and that if any of said off- 
spring should commit a crime of a grave or atrocious character, the 
crime would be the proof, and perhaps the strongest evidence of the 
insanity of the person who committed it ? '' 

A. " You were never more mistaken in your life. I say this : 
that the offspring of insane jiarents unquestionably inherit the in- 
sane temperament, and this inheritance may remain in an unde- 
veloped and latent state without sufficient causes to develop it, that 
in this condition the person may commit acts of crime, and be as 
fully possessed of his reasoning faculties and know the responsibility 
as well as, I believe, I know it myself; but should exciting causes 
be applied to develop it into activity or create a paroxysm, under 
this influence the crime being committed, he might not, although 
knowing what his intention was to do, in regard to the crime, have 
the will — power to restrain Jiimself from the act." 



16 TKIAL OE JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

In reply to questions upon tlie power of self-control, the witness 
said : 

" The insane may have those impulses and warn their friends 
that such feelings exist: they are conscious of their existence, and 
although so conscious, if not restrained they will execute them." 

The examination continued at length, the testimony repeating in 
substance the points referred to above. 

On Saturday, IGth, the last witness was called, Dr. Eugene Gris- 
som, Superintendent North Carolina Insane Asylum. After abrief 
examination by the counsel for the defence, Col. A. J. Boyd, the 
Commonwealth's attorney pressed a cross-examination during the 
entire day, and from its great length, only a portion of the subject 
matter can be here reported. 

Dr. Eugene Grissom, examined : " I am a doctor. Am Super- 
intendent of the Insane Asylum of North Carolina. Have held 
this position for thirteen years. Practiced medicine in Granville 
county, K". C'., from the time of my graduation in medicine in 
1858, except at following intervals : I went into the war in the 
Confederate service as a soldier, was wounded in the seven days 
battle around Eichmond, and while in hospital, was elected to the 
Legislature from my native county of Granville. Again out of 
medical practice during the session of the State Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1865, of which I was a raembei-. Have made the study 
of the mind a special pursuit for about fifteen years. Have had 
under my charge for thirteen years, an annual average of about 250 
patients. Have been present during the trial, and heard all the evi- 
dence as detailed by the witnesses. Could form an opinion as to the 
mental condition of the prisoner at the time he killed his sister. 
Thought ho was insane. 

'' No very satisfactory definition has ever been given of insanity. 
I mean such as closely and detinitcly includes all insane, and ex- 
cludes all sane, on account, I may say, of the varied phenomena 
and symptoms. 

" I would define insanity to bo that condition of the mind, in 
which its functions of thought, feeling, and will, are impaired by a 
diseased brain. I think the prisoner labored under delusional in- 
sanity. I define a delusion to be an insane false idea, resulting from 
a diseased condition of the brain. I have had under my treatment 



rforin s-aroima orare Library 
Raleigh 

TKIAL OF JAMES THOirAS DEJARXETTE FOR HOillCIDE. 17 

at the insane asylum, a number of cases illustrating this mental 
condition. One that occurs to me is that of a preacher of consid- 
erable intelligence, who had a delusion that he was the President of 
the World, as he expressed it. Another was the case of a young 
lady who thought that she was the wife of tlio Prince of Wales. 

"Another that I remember is now under treatment, a lady of 
character, belonging to a family whose name is well-known (doubt- 
less to His Honor, if I were to call it) ; who was under treatment 
for a number of years, by Dr. Stribling, of Staunton, Va., after- 
wards by Dr. Fisher, at the Insane Asylum of Xortli Carolina, and 
for thirteen years under my own treatment, who, during her par- 
oxysms believes she has committed the unpardonable sin, and is in 
constant dread of being publicly executed, and her two sons exe- 
cuted by her side. 

" These paroxysms are succeeded by long intervals, during which 
she laughs, wu-ites, reads, converses intelligently, and is perfectly 
quiet ; frequently visiting her friends in Ealeigh, and at her home; 
and returns to go through the same round of disease. On one occa- 
sion, (I mention in proof of her delusional state of mind), she sent 
me a message by my associate physician, Dr. Fuller, that she had a 
desire to kill my little boy, and begged me to keep him away from 
her in her walks in the grounds. There are various other cases that 
I can mention if desired. 

I have now nnder my care, a young man who was under the treat- 
ment of my predecessor, and who was then supposed to be well 
enough to go home on a visit, at least, and who very soon after his 
return home, killed his father. He was under the delusion, I sup- 
pose, from his subsequent explanation, that it w^as his duty to do 
so, because he thought his father was a devil. 

'•' The account of it as givei> in court in my presence Avas, that 
he concealed an axe, and some time during the night, crushed the 
skull of his father, cut off his head, cut of! both legs, dragged the 
body out, placed it under a shelter, and gave the alarm himself. I 
visited the scene myself the next day, and saw the mangled remains 
of the father just as I have described it. He is now in the asylum, 
and speaks of the affair occasionally without any apparent concern."' 

In reply to farther questions the Avitness said : 

" The reasons for opinion of the \3risoner's insanity with delusions 



18 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

are : the existence of hereditary predisposition to insanity, strong 
on the maternal, probably on the paternal side ; change in personal 
characteristics and temperature exhibited by alternate depression 
and cheerfulness previous to the commission of the homicide, and 
by his talkativeness and reticence, and by other evidences of fickle- 
ness, altogether different from his previous character; his imagina- 
tions concerning his health, the neglect of business without appa- 
rent cause, attempting trivial, senseless and impracticable inven- 
tions, expecting large profits therefrom; nonsensical writings and 
proposition to publish them ; extreme sleeplessness, denoting ner- 
vous excitement, entanglement of business affairs, incoherency of 
talk, and other inconsistencies. 

" His conduct at the time and after the homicide, exhibiting no 
motion either of anger or remorse, — making no attempt at conceal- 
ment or escape, although there was an opportunity to do so, but 
justifying himself, entertaining the false idea that such an act would 
wipe out a family stain, and retrieve the honor of his father and 
himself, are also reasons for my opinion. 

^' I attach paramount importance to the hereditary taint in this 
case. By hereditary insanity is meant the supervention of that 
disease in cases where the susceptibility to the disease is transmitted 
from one generation or otherwise, to successive ones. The medical 
profession generally attaches very great importance to this branch 
of the disease. This is the result of my own observation in the 
treatment of the insane, as Avell as the conviction of ray research in 
reading. 

" With the evidence of heredity in the family of the prisoner, I 
think with any sufficient exciting causes the chances for his insanity 
were very probable. Any cause or combination of causes that would 
greatly depress or shock the system, especially the nervous system, 
would have produced insanity in his case. If he committed the act 
under the delusion that it was his duty to do so, he would most 
likely have been indifferent and cool afterwards." 

The following questions were then asked : 

Q. " In investigating a case of insanity, what importance, if 
any, would you give to the following symptoms ? to-wit :" 
(a) " Loss of health, or ill-health, or complaints thereof ? 
{h). " Melancholy and extremes m temperament ? 



tRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJAKXETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 19 

{c) " Neglect of business without apparent cause ? 

{d) " Attemptiug useless and senseless inventions, and expecting 
to realize large returns therefor ? 

((') " Writing nonsensical books or romances ? 

(/■) " Wakefulness and loss of sleep ? 

(g) '^Change of conduct and strangeness of deportment to such 
an extent, as to call forth from his physician and associates the re- 
mark that he was crazy ? 

{h) "Extreme talkativeness or extreme taciturnity in lieu of 
former constant pleasant and genial deportment ? 

{[) " Possessing a hereditary taint of insanity from both paternal 
and maternal great grand parents, and continuing to his own 
parents ? 

( /■) " Extreme indifference and iciness after the homicide ? " 

A. ''All importance."' 

Q. " Suppose you find a person exhibiting all these symptoms, 
would it be remarkable or unusual, if such a person should be seized 
with a paroxysm of insanity or insane delusion upon the operating 
of any of the usual exciting causes of insanity ? '' 

A. " Ko: He would be liable to develop disease." 

Being asked what was an exciting cause of insanity, the witness 
stated that it was "any cause giving rise to a sudden shock of the 
physical or mental system." 

Q. "Finding a person with such symptoms, would the sudden 
news of the downfall of a favorite sister, have the tendency to bring 
on the paroxysm ? " 

A. "It would, unqiiesiionaMy.'" 

The witness farther testified as follows : 

" Before the last trial in this case, I was written to several times 
by Col. Withers (counsel for defence) soliciting my presence, but 
declined on the ground that I had not been in the habit of attend- 
ing trials as an expert even in my own State except under SKhjKena. 
I was again written to by Col. Withers a few weeks ago making the 
same appeal. At the meeting of the Board of Directors a resolu- 
tion was adopted requesting my presence, or rather indicating their 
desire that I should attends 

"' The reason given by the member of the Board, who made the 
motion^ was that all the insane in ISTorth Carolina were entitled to 



20 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJAR^STETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

the sympathies of the authorities of that institution, whether inside 
of it, or outside, and that if a citizen of the State outside of its 
borders was insane, he was entitled to it. They indicated their de- 
sire that I should attend the trial, and testify if need be, in behalf 
of flie truth, expressing their confidence in my honesty and judg- 
ment at the same time. Applications to the Board were read, 
written by the counsel for the defence, and on these the resolution 
was based. I receive no pay for my attendance. I would not accept 
a dollar if it was tendered me. T never did receive pay in any case 
in which I gave expert testimony. 

" The tendency of all cases of insanity is toward dementia. Cases 
of paroxysmal insanity are followed by lucid intervals. In the case 
I alluded to, of the patient who imagined she was the wife of the 
Prince of Wales, there were lucid intervals of comparative sound- 
ness as far as the conduct and conversation were concerned. A 
person may be laboring under delusional insanity, and yet be able 
to attend to business. The case I mentioned of the Hillsborough 
lady, is a case in point." 

Q. " Have you any knowledge of any case with a stronger 
hereditary predisposition than this ?" 

A. '^ I knov/ of no case, either of personal observation or on 
record ?" 

Cross-examined by the prosecution : 

Q. " What are the physical indications of hereditary insanity, 
and how are they to be ascertained and detected by the experts ? " 

A. "^ The indications physically of hereditary insanity are ex- 
hibited during life by the phenomena and conduct.'' 

Q. "' In what way is the expert to acquaint himself with the 
phenomena, that is to say, with the conduct of the sufferer ?" 

A. ''' The best criterion is to compare the patient's j^resent self 
with his former self." 

Q. " By what means, in Avhat way, and under what circum- 
stances is the comparison to be made ? " 

A. "From the history of the case as detailed by obsei'vers." 

Q, "Does it not usually require a personal knowledge of the 
temperament, habits and conduct of the sufferers, a rigid inquiry 
into the disease and habits of the ancestors, a knowledge gained by 
personal examination and inspection of the sufferer himself> to 



TRIAL OF James I-HOMAS DEJARlSrETTfi FOR aoMicibE, 21 

learn whether or not he was suffering from any functional derange- 
ment or constitutional disease ?" 

A. •' To form an opinion quite satisfactory to the expert, long 
accustomed to the observation of insanity, requires only an intelli- 
gent history of the case, but to verify it absolutely, would require 
a personal examination. I have admitted into the asylum more than 
eight hundred persons, upon the history of the case, only one of 
whom I have found to bo sane afterward." 

Q. '' AVhat is the value of evidence detailed as to the insanity of 
the sufferer, by non-medical experts ?" 

A. " The difference between a non-medical and a medical expert 
consists in the qualifications of the two classes — obtained by the 
latter by study, practice and critical comparison." 

In reply to further questions upon the respective value of the 
testimony of experts and non-experts in regard to the existence (»f 
insanity, the witness explained that every truthful description con- 
nected with the conduct or history of a case, in other words, all the 
facts related were of value, but the conclusion from those facts, 
that is, the opinion resulting from the comparison and correlation 
of those facts was only of scientific value when pronounced by an 
expert, whose mental and medical training and experience especially 
fitted him for weighing the facts correctly and impartially. 

Being asked many questions of a variable character iu relation to 
a hypothetical case, the witness stated that he should not be satis- 
fled with an opinion about such a case, without inquiry into all the 
circumstances necessary to come to the conclusion. Should want 
to know more of his personal history. Would not judge of insan- 
ity by any one symptom, however common it might be, but by a 
collection of facts. Upon inquiry he repeated the declaration that 
insanity transmits the susceptibility to disease, although there are 
many cases in which fuUu developed insanity cannot be traced to 
heredity. 

Question by the court. " You said that the prisoner acted under 
a delusion that it was his duty to kill his sister in order to avenge 
his own and his family's honor. Suppose there had been no decla- 
ration from him that he acted from that cause, what would you say 
induced him to commit the act ?" 

A. "1 should gay he committed the act on account of a diseased 



^i TRIAL 01' J-AMES TltOMAS DEJaRKETTE EOR HOillCICE. 

condition of the brain which so impaired his will power that he was 
not capable of restraining it under exciting causes. I do not care 
what the cause may have been. A combination of causes might 
produce the result upon a diseased brain." 

Question by the court. " Do you mean to say that a man has 
will power enough to avenge an indignity, but that he has not will 
power sufficient to forbear to avenge the insult ? " 

A. '' I think with a diseased mind acts of great violence maybe 
committed by an insane influence, when the will power is not suffi- 
cient to control the action of the sufferer." 

By the court. "Can a man make up his mind to avenge an in- 
sult, which has in fact been offered him, without having will power." 

A. "I think in diseased minds violent acts are frequently com- 
mitted without any sound judgment, merely from impulse, in its 
common acceptation." 

By the court. "Suppose A, who had inherited a predisposition 
to insanity, should have his nose pulled by B, and should slay B, 
how can you determine whether he acted from an insane impulse 
growing out of his diseased mind, or from a voluntary intention to 
avenge the insult offered him ? " 

A. "It is very difficult to determine motives, but where there is 
a sufficient amount of brain disease to impair the thought and 
weaken the will power, I do not believe the patient could control 
himself, whatever might be his impulse or motive." 

By the Court. " Do you mean to say that in the supposed case 
you cannot tell whether he did the slaying from violent temper or 
from insane impulse ?" 

A. " I think it would be from lack of will power more than im- 
pulse." 

Q. " Then you don't think a sane man would kill another for 
pulling his nose ? '* 

A. "I don't think a sane man ought to." 

The cross-examination continued for the remainder of the dajj 
taking a wide range concerning the causes, manifestations and char- 
acteristics of insanity, the physical effects of the disease, its hered^ 
itary transmission, and the responsibility of the insane for their acts, 
developing only the reiterated expression of opinion by Dr. Grissom 
that he recognized insanity only as mental impairment produced by 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 33 

a disease of the brain, and did not believe in a moral or an emo- 
tional insanity existing without a diseased brain, the physical basis 
of all mental faculties, and that his opinion was, that the prisoner 
suffered from ordinary insanity with delusions, the opinion being 
based upon the family history of the prisoner and his own history. 
This closed the testimony adduced on the trial. 

Minds accustomed to the examination of cases of homicide by the 
insane, would consider that no great doubt need be entertained in 
regard to the condition of Dejarnette. 

But it should be remembered that the whole atmosphere of the 
trial was unfavorable to the prisoner. The highly colored accounts 
of an affair naturally shocking in the highest degree, as rendered 
by the local press, had established his guilt in many minds. The 
charge of the judge in the first trial had been heavily against the 
wretched boy, with the added weight of the verdict of" murder sub- 
sequently rendered. 

It was necessary to summon a venire from another county, to ob- 
tain the intelligent and patient jury before which the case was tried. 
The mental attitude of the community, inspired by horror at the 
sad fate of a girl, the daughter of a family once so esteemed, was 
hostile to the prisoner. The able and upright judge, whose power 
was universally recognized, was trying a prisoner whom he had once 
sentenced to execution, and was fettered by supposed principles of 
medical jurisprudence, (as we shall hereafter see), in connection 
with the vital portion of his charge as bearing on the defence, which 
have been rejected in the highest tribunals as unworthy of the bet- 
ter knowledge of to-day, and which were even disregarded in the 
very case in which those principles were originally announced, many 
years ago. 

^ The devoted counsel for the accused, Messrs. E. B. Withers, 
Barksdale, Peatross, Harris, Eeid and Boyd, had to struggle against 
these adverse influences, added to which was an able prosecution, 
whose zeal could scarcely be distinguished from vindictiveness, and 
whose ambition seemed to be directed to break down the barriers 
which medical and legal science have, with joined hands, erected 
stone by stone, between the victim and the cry of the mob, thirst- 
ing for revenge. 

The boldness of the declaration that the " visionarv theories'" of 



24 TRIAL OF THOMAS JAMES DEJARISTETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

the experts were not in accordance with the law of Virginia or of 
North Carolina or of England, can hardly be excused by the igno- 
rance which accused the medical experts of having invented the 
word ''heredity/' and '"coining it" to suit their peculiar views of 
insanity. 

Annoyances are doubtless to be expected by those of the medical 
profession who announce stubborn and unpopular truths to over 
eager lawyers, until all the members of the bar have learned to re- 
cognize the expert in his true position of nmiciis curiae, and as the 
friend and not the foe of justice. 

The corner-stones of absolute conclusion in Dejarnette's case are : 

1. The existence of hereditary predisposition to insanity. 

2. Its development as exhibited in many ways, and notably by 
delusions. 

It is true that the acceptance of the fact of the power of heredity 
has long formed one of the elementary propositions of medical 
philosophy, but in view of efforts to debauch and mislead the pub- 
lic mind, it may be not unwise to return to these familiar princi- 
ples which have been characterized as visionary and peculiar. 

Let us record from the vast number of facts industriously gath- 
ered from the experience of mankind, a few conclusions, from the 
first authorities in medical jurisprudence in England, on the Con- 
tinent, and in America. 

It will be found that from the earliest observation to the present 
day the weight of intelligent opinion, and from the most skilled 
observers, grows steadily more and more, as information widens, to 
the acknowledgement of the overwhelming importance of lieredity 
in the development of insanity. 

The Medical Jurisprudence of Alfred Swain Taylor, F. R. S, and 
Lecturer on Jurisjirudence at Guy's Hospital, London, is of the 
highest authority in the courts, not only of this, but of all English 
speaking peoples. He says : 

" There can be no doubt, from tlie concurrent testimony of all 
writers on insanity, that a predisposition to this disease is frequently 
transmitted from parent to child through many generations. 

" The malady may not always show itself in such cases, because 
the offspring may pass through life without being exposed to any 
exciting cause ; but in general it readily supervenes from very slight 
causes. 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 25 

"M. Esquirol has remarked that this hereditary taint is the 
most common of all the causes to which insanity can be referred 
especially as it exists among the higher classes of society. Among 
the poor, about one-sixth of all the cases may be traced to heredi- 
tary transmission ; and other authorities have asserted that in more 
thaa one-half the cases of insanity, no other cause can be found for 
the malady.''— Taylor's MedicalJurispruclence, p. 506, 2d Edition 
1873. 

It is subject, also, like other hereditary maladies, to the phe- 
nomena of atavism, or leappearance after a healthy generation. 

The acknowledged master of modern German thought, in this 
department of medical science, Prof. Greisinger, of the University 
of Berlin, states the following conclusions : 

" Statistical investigations strengthen very remarkably the opinion 
generally held by physicians and the laity, that in the greater num- 
ber of cases of insanity a hereditary predisposition lies at the bot- 
tom of the malady ; and T believe that we might, without hesita- 
tion, affirm that there is really no circumstance more powerful than 
this. ******** 

"At present we can claim for tuberculosis alone an influence of 
hereditary circumstances in some degree equal to that exhibited by 
mental diseases."— (r'ne.se;?^^?- on Mental Diseases, p. 150. 

On page 151 of the work from which the above is quoted, maybe 
found an array of statistics covering the questions involved. 
^ Congenital disposition to insanity is more frequent where mar- 
riages take place within a limited circle of families. 

Thus in the asylum at York, (especially destined for the mem- 
bers of a religious sect, whose tenets encourage marriage only with 
members of the sane belief,) direct predisposition is exhibited in one- 
third of the patients, and indirect in another sixth, making one- 
half altogether. 
Griesinger also remarks : 

"It appears that hereditary influences may be highly and quickly 
increased by drunkenness, by disease, and in short, by various inter- 
current disorders of the parents at the time of procreation."— 
Vide jSupra, p. 156. 

This eminent psychologist, whose skill and experience were so 
great, farther declares : 



2G TRIAL OF JAMES THOilAS ])EJARNETTE FOR HOifinUJE. 

"Of the general diagnostic characters of hereditary mental dis- 
ease the following may (according to Morel) be considered the chief : 

" This kind (jf insanity generally breaks out suddenly from in-' 
significant external causes : it shows itself often in marked emo- 
tional insanity, the intelligence remaining relatively intact; there 
are considerable remissions and exacerbations. Strong hallucina- 
tions and paralytic dementia are St^mewhat rare ; while, on the 
other hand, there exists a strong tendency to delirious conceptions. 
Althougli stdl in a condition of relative health, such individuals 
render themselves remarkal)le by their great emotional excitement, 
and therefore, their grea'er dependence on the influence of the ex- 
ternal world." — Page 156. 

The same writer poiuis out in relation to cases of melancholia in 
which destructive or murderous tendencies appt ar : 

" Not only have these acts of violence towards others, inasmuch 

a.s they are often perpetrated upon tliose most loved and cherished 

by the patient, fundamentally the same essential character as the 

tendency to self-injury and self-mutilation ; but, in general, both 

depend upon ihe same fundamental state of morbid negative 

emotion. 

******** 

" As to the psychical motives which give rise to these acts of vio- 
lence in persons already laboring under melancholia, these impulses 
would seem to be due, in part at le.ist, to an actual delirium of the 
intelligence or of the sensorial perception. * * * * 

"To these are very closely associated those violent deeds which 
are suggested under the idea, evidently melancholic, that everything 
in this world is bad, that everything is abandoned and lost, that for 
example innocent children may be best delivered from the misery 
of this world by an early (violent) death, &c. — Page 261. 

The learned author also points us to the fact that cretinism is 
hereditary in the highest degree, although the most complete cretins 
have reached a condition of degeneracy which prevents the produc- 
tion of ojffspring. In like manner the supervention of imbecility 
in the progressive heredity of insanity leads to sterility. 

If we examine the views of distinguished alienists in this country, 
in England and in Canada, we find an increased expression of 
opinion, with great unanimity and earnestness of conviction, in re- 
gard to the extraordinary influence of heredity. 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARXETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 37 

At a meeting of the Association of the Superintendents of Amer- 
ican Insane Asylums, at Toronto, in 1871, Dr. Ray declared, in the 
course of a discussion upon the causes of insanity, that 

" It has always bten — or, certainly for a good many years — un- 
derstood that there was an agency for the production of insanity, 
whose action is independent of local causes ; that insanity may be 
of a hereditary character, transmitted from one generation to 
another. I think the tendency of our progress, has been to enlarge 
the operation of this cause, and our records show that its potency 
has been more strongly felt as we have advanced in knowledge of 
the disease. 

" I think that during the time hospitals have been opened in this 
country, the figure indicating hereditary cases, where it has been 
expressed at all, has been steadily increasing; and as we have in- 
quired more and more strictly, we have found that in the admissions 
to our hospitals, the influence of this agency has been more and 
more recognized." — American Journal of Insanity, Vol. 28, p. 263. 

In the same discussion, Dr. Gray remarked, that 

" In undoubted hereditary cases the same causes operating to in- 
duce insanity in those in whom there was no hereditary tendency, 
also induced it in those in whom there was a hereditary tendency ; 
but as remarked by Dr. Kirkbride, it required a much stronger in- 
fluence in the same direcHon to develop the disease in those who 
had no constitutional tendency."— F?V/e bup., p. 266. 

In the same discussion Dr. Cook who has since died at the hands 
of an insane patienr, a martyr to professional dury, took the ground 
that hereditary influence alone, can d-velop insanity without other 
cause, and related nn instance of a young woman who inherited ex- 
aggerated timidit) and diffidence from tlie father, and lived more 
and more in seclusion, until she covered her face from her mother. 
and would eat only after dark, developing insanity. Says he : 

'* Having all the facts before me, I could find no other cause than 
hereditary transmission, developing as I have stated. That such a 
change occurred, and that the disease can be transmitted and de- 
veloped, without other cause, I think is an unquestionable fact." — 
Page 267. 

The action of an exciting cause of insanity upon the brain, is 
thus described by Blandford, a well-known English authority, often 
referred to by Ray : 



28 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

"The reception of a mental shock causes immediate activity of 
tlie brain, rapid molecular change in the centres, and, in conse- 
quence, the determination of arterial blood to the brain. Even 
muscular structures may be set in motion, and this involuntarily. 
Very likely there will be trembling, or sobbing, or crying. The 
sufferer may pace the room, or rock himself, or wring his hands. 
All such acts imply a continued change going on in the centre ; and 
they also imply a want of controlling power." — Blandford, Insan- 
ity and its Treatment, p. 50. 
Dr. Maudsley says : 

''There is the strangest aversion on the part of the public to ad- 
mit that an extreme hereditary taint m?iy be a not less certain cause 
of defect or disease of mind, than an actual injnry of the head, 
and yet it is the fact. 

" The hereditary predisposition to insanity signifies some un- 
known defect of nervous element^ an innate disposition to irregu- 
larity in the social relations; the acquired infirmity of the parent 
has become the natural infirmity of the offspring, as the acquired 
habit of the parent animal obviously becomes sometimes the instinct 
of the offspring. 

"Hence comes the impulsive or destructive character of the phe- 
nomena of hereditary insanity, the actions being frequently sudden, 
unaccountable, and seemingly quite motiveless." * * * 

Says the same eminent psychologist : 

"It is worse than useless for a sound mind to attempt to fathom 
the real motives which spring up in a madman's mind. * * * 
Only long experience and careful study of actual cases of mental 
disease will suffice to give any sort of adtquate notion of what a 
madman really is." 

Dr. John P Gray, whose experience has been so great, while for 
many years the Superintendent of the New York Insane Asylum at 
Utica, affirms as follows : 

" In regard to insanity, this question of heredity is of the highest 
possible import. A distinguished writer (Maudsley) says: 'the 
insane neurosis which the child inherits in consequence of its 
/arents insanity, is as surely a defect of physical nature as is the 
epileptic neurosis to which it is so closely allied. '''—Gray, Thoughts 
on the Causation of Insanity, Journal Insanity, Vol. 29, p. 267. 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARXETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 29 

This author also says in regard to hereditary neurosis : "Past all 
question, it is the most important element in the causation of in- 
sanity." 

Dr. Eastman says, in relation to the development of hereditary 
insanity : 

"A lady, residing in Washington, was the mother of a large 
family, was insane at the birth of the first child, and never entirely 
well threafter. She was at different time» an inmate of the several 
hospitals for the insane. I think insanity hai shown itself in her 
ancestors. The children grew up dutiful and capable. The young 
men harned trades and were steady and industrious. About the 
vear 1866, the oldest child, a young man of twenty or twenty-one, 
was brought to the h.'spital with acute mania, and died in a few 
weeks. 

'■ In about two years the second child, then a young min of about 
the same age as the first at his death, died at the hospital, a few 
days after his admission, of typho-mania. In about two years more, 
the third son, having for a few days shown some symptoms of men- 
tal derangement, committed suicide.'' — Journal Insanifji, Vol. 31, 
page 196. 

Dr. Ranney states : 

"It seems probable that hereditary influences become intensif]ed 
in succeeding generations, and thus alford an explanation of a 
hereditary influence operating to give rise to insanity in children, 
in some instances at an earlier period than in the parents," — P. 197. 

So, also, is the testimony of Dr. Everts, an eminent physic an of 
the insane, in the West, who emphatically affirms : 

" I have come to believe that there is an organic proclivity in a 
large majority of cases of insanity." — Journal Insanity, Vol. 31, 
pige 194. 

The field of historic evidence is full of instruction ; but the ma- 
terials are too abundant for the limits of this paper. I will briefly 
refer to but two striking illustrations of the presence of the factor 
that alienists term heredity in the production of insanity. 

K wniQV m the Journal of Mental Science \\di^ pointed out that 
since the ancestry of ordinary individuals is quickly forgotten, we 
may find the best illustrations of hereditary influences "in th-e 
fierce light that beats upon a throne." The history of royal dynasties 



30 TRIAL OF JAxMES THOJIAS DEJ A.RNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

is preserved, and even their authentic portraits remain, A melan- 
choly story is the record of the gradual degeneracy of the monarchs 
of Spair) from the time of John II, of Castile, who in 1449 married 
by most unhappy choice Isabellri, of Portugal, herself the grand 
daughter by a bastard son, of Pedro I, of Portugwl, whom the im- 
partial judge will declare to have been insane, as far back as 1367. 
For three hundred and fifty years, the fearful marks of nervous 
degeneracy appear and reappear in this royal but most miserable and 
afflicted line of human beings, until it went out absolutely in men- 
tal and physical decay and death in Charles II, in the year 1700, 
when the throne passed by will to the Bourbons of France, con- 
firmed by the results of a bbmdy war. 

With one exception only, each of the eight successive generations 
occupying the throne was attended by the grim spectre behind the 
regal purple, in its varied manifestations of mania, epilepsy, mel- 
ancholia, bodily deformity, and imbecility until the gloomy pro- 
cession ended at the grave. 

Without lingering over the myriad circumstances attesting this 
biography of woe, we may briefly no'e that John II, of Casiile, was 
weak of mind, left the kingdom to lavorites and lamented that he 
had not been a mechanic r^ither than a king, on his deathbed, and 
his wife Isabella was insane for many years. The daughter Isabella, 
of Castile, the wife of Ferdinand, was of sane mind, and is a 
striking exception to the rest of her line. 

Juana, Isabella's daughter, became itisane, and was confined in a 
castle for nearly fifty years, dying ms she had lived for years, in the 
lowest estate of humanity, and on a level with beasts. 

Juana's son was the Emperor Charles V, who, with all his extra- 
ordinary powers in youth, became epileptic, melancholy, had a de- 
formity by excess of size of the lower jaw which prevented perfect 
mastication, suffered intensely from headaches, and abdicated the 
throne, at fifty-six, on account of ill-health. 

Charles V married his cousin Isabella of the line of Portugal, 
and his eldest son was Philip II, whose strange and terrible char- 
acter of superstition, cruelty and gloom has been pictured in 
frightful colors. He married h's cousin by both ancestral lines, an 
immediate grand-daughter of the wretched Juana, and their son 
Don Carlos was a maniac, imprisoned by his father like a criminal, 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 31 

where he died in a dungeon, after frequently attempting suicide. 
Phillip II by a fourth marriage, espoused his own niece, and the 
fifth child of that marriage lived to be the feeble and nearly imbe- 
cile Philip III, a low sensualist, whose first son Prosper was from 
birth a victim of convulsions, dying early, and leaving Philip IV to 
be succeedefl by Charles II, the last of the line. No more striking 
picture of in. oecility than this last I'elic of the ancient monarchy 
can be concei\'ed than is presented in the picture drawn by Macaulay 
of this poor creature, ignorant of his own provinces even by name, 
epileptic, without hair or eyebrows, husband of two of the fairest 
princesses in succession of France and Germany, yet impotent, and 
hence leaving no successor — the family enlargement of the lower 
jaw so great that he could not masticate food, and swallowed soups 
and sweetmeats just as they were presented — finally the utter decay 
of all bis faculties. What more signal illustration can there be, of 
the truth of the declarations of medical science. 

Every day the same fact stares us in the face, as we read of the 
conquering march of Henry V, of England, through the realms of 
the King of France, Charles VI, whose insanity is universally ac- 
knowledged. The French monarch after the defeat at Agincourt 
was obliged to give his daughter to Henry in marriage, but the 
wretched progeny of this union with the daughter of a lunatic, 
proved to be Henry VI, whose fate it was to be the innocent cause 
of the wars of the Rcses, and one of the most pitiful objects of 
compassion on the historic page. 

A remarkable illustration of the influence of hereditary predis- 
position to defective mental and physical constitution, may be ob- 
served in the history of the family discussed under the name of 
" Juke," as detailed in fifty pages of the Thirtieth Annual Eeport 
of the Executive Committee of the Prison Association of ISTew 
York. 

There is barely opportunity to briefly refer to this interesting his- 
tory. The progenitor "Max," was born between 1720, and 1740, 
and successive generations have been traced through 709 persons, 
alive or dead. 

No less than 180 of these received county support, in or out of 
the poor house, during sixty-four years of which the institution 
kept the record. Many were insane, and no less than fifty-two per 
cent, of the women, or more than half, were halots in some degree. 



32 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

The committee reckon, by their computation, a loss of a million 
of dollars to society, through this single family, to say nothing of 
pauperism, crime, idiocy, and insanity yet to come. 

It would seem that it is time to recognize the gravity of this 
subject. 

If we mny now conceive the existence of heredity to be more than 
a visionary theory, it may be in order to consider what evidence has 
been thought trustworthy, in proof of the actual presence of a dis- 
eased brain, which is insanity. Also we may properly examine how 
far the nature of particular delusions should affect the fact of the 
existence of such disease, which the learned judge in his charge, 
presented as of prime importance. 

So far as symptoms of the existence of insanity are concerned. 
Dr. Brigham testified in the case of Grifiin for the homicide of 
Coit, who had debauched Griffin's wife : (August, 1846.) 

"As evidence of insanity I would consider the state of his bodily 
health, his sleeplessness, his fits of abstraction, taciturnity at times 
and then talking unnaturally rapid, * * * his change of char- 
acter and countenance noticed by all after his separation from his 
wife. *****! have really known a case of insanity not 
preceded or accompanied by skeplessness, * * * i c^n hardly 
conceive of a sane man after committing an act like that the accused 
is charged with, becoming at once calm and indifferent about the 
result, asking no question whatever about it. * * * 

"I cannot regard it as exceedingly strange that an insane person 
should prosecute his business correctly for awhile, and then have a 
sudden paroxysm of insane excitement, commit some heinous act 
and then become calm, and act and converse rationally for a time ; 
for I have seen a considerable number of such cases, though they 
may be deemed rare." — Journal Insanity, Vol. 3, p. 257. 

A. B. de Boismont, the French alienist, in an article upon the 
works of Mittermaier, the famous juris-consult of Germany, has 
the following : 

" In order to give a positive opinion of the presence of insanity, 
says Mittermaier, it is necessary 

"1st. To search for indications of a change in the habitual dis- 
position of the accused. 

"2. To ascertain the physical and psychological symptoms of the 
disease. 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARN^ETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 33 

"3. To point out the causes that may liave acted on the brain. 

"4. To mark carefully the way in which the mental affection has 
manifested itself." — Quoted in Jom-nal Tnsan{fi/,Yo]. 27, p. 24-4. 

Boismont says : 

"Every physician for the insane has met with cases of irresistible 
impulse, which appear entirely independent of any commonly re- 
ceived type of mental alienation." * # * — Page 247. 

Fixed ideas in the insane may have deplorable results. From 
Mittermaier's dissertation upon medico-legal investigations we learn 
that two melancholiacs, who had killed their children, one to save 
them from misery, the other from dishonor, were convicted, because 
the medical expert, instead of attributing their acts to derangement, 
imputed them to crime. 

Mittermaier in an able review shows their conviction to be owin^ 
to the fault of the experts. 

He was law-professor of the University of Heidelberg, and the 
most illustrious juris-consult of Germany. 

In reference to extreme wakefulness as a symptom of insanity, 
Dr, Gray states : 

''Any bodily condition which disturbs the mind is too important 
to be overlooked or ignored. Prolonged wakefulness, though it may 
not apparently disturb the mind, indicates a condition of the brain 
which is not natural, and which should be inquired into." — Gray, 
Journal Insanity, Vol. 27, p. 407. 

The effect of sperraatorrhcea, as one of the inducing causes of 
insanity, has often been illustrated in cases as reported, and may be 
found in the case of George Hammond, who killed Worley, Lexing- 
ton, Ky., 1857. Prisoner found insane. — Journal Insanity, Vol. 
16, p. 168. 

In examining the question of responsibility to the law. Dr. Buck- 
nill, a very high English authority, and long a Commissioner in 
Lunacy, says with emphasis : 

"Kesponsibility depends upon power, not upon knowledge, still 
less upon feeling. A man is responsible to do that which he can 
do, not that which he feels or knows it right to do." — Bncl-nill, 
Unsoundness of Mind in Relation t^ Criminal Acts, p. 59. 

To illustrate a typical case of hcm-ditary insanity, and the difti- 
eulty of connecting the,sijct with tjjfi tielusion, in such manner as to 



34 TRIAL OF JA.MES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

justify the conduct by the delusion, the following instance may be 
narrated, which is presented by Dr. Litchfield, in his report of the 
Rockwood Criminal Lunatic Asylum for 1866, at Kinston, C. W. : 

''One patient, a young man of gentle and affectionate tempera- 
ment, came to this country with a mother and twosisters — to whom 
lie was devotedly attacheJ, One small, but dark, cloud lowered 
over him. He had the hereditary taint of insanity. When he was 
three years old, his father, in a fit of recurrent mania, hung him- 
self on a tree in AVindsor Park. 

''In process of time, this young man became restless and irritable, 
and began to have delusions. He loved his mother very dearly, and 
conceived the idea that she was too good to live, and ought to be an 
angel in heaven. He watched patiently for an opportunity — cut his 
mother's throat ; and, when she died, triumphed in the belief that 
she had been translated to heaven." — Journal Insanity, Vol. 25, 
page 122. 

He was manifestly insane, was acquitted, and subsequently recov- 
ered in the asylum at Kingston. There he lived an industrious and 
useful life, deeply deploring his sad delusion. 

The charge of the learned judge in the Dejarnette case while 
containing much that commands our assent, and represents the 
claims of justice with impartial care, on the most vital point of the 
defence, enunciates a doctrine which is as far from representing the 
enlightened spirit of modern jurisprudence, as the utterances of 
Hale in condemning witches to death are from modern opinion con- 
cerning the reality of witchcraft. The language as reported in the 
jonrnfils of Danville is as follows : 

" As you have heard the statement of the medical experts that in 
their opinion the accused did the killing under an insane delusion, 
the second kind of insanity to which I have alluded, the Court will 
explain to you what is meant by an insane delusion. A delusion is 
a false belief, but whether a criminal offence is to be excused or not, 
when committed under a delusion, fZej!?e;«r/5 aUogetlier upon tliecliar- 
arfer of the delusion. A criminal act done under a delusion, is only 
excused, if the delusion had been true. For example, if a man 
under an insane delusion, really and truly believed that another was 
about to take his life, or do him some great bodily harm, and under 
such delusion the insane man kills the other, from whom he expects 



TftlAL OF .UMES THOMAS DE.TARNETTE J^OR HOMICIDE. 3o 

the danger, the law excuses him, because he acts iu supposed self- 
defence, and would have been Justified if his belief had been true. 

" Another example is where the person killing fully believes that 
the act he is doing is done by the command of a superior power 
which supersedes all human laws and the laws of nature. 

'' But where a man, provoked by an insult or an indignity, offered 
to his own and his family's honor, such a delusion is not recognized 
by the law, as an excuse for the crime. — Extract from Charge of 
Hon. A. 31. Aiken, reported in Weekly News of Danville, April 
20, 1881. 

If it is really law in the State of Virginia or North Carolina, or 
England that the character of the delusion is to fix the existence of 
criminal responsibility, then all the boasted advance of medico-legal 
science from the days of George III, is a fiction, and the most acute 
observers and experienced reasoners are wrong. If this monstrous 
doctrine remains in the law as a relic of the pupilage of mankind, 
it is time that it was being considered by the section of Medical Ju- 
risprudence in the American Medical Association. 

It is a return to the errors not only of the McNaughten case, 
but of the Hadfield, and sets at naught, the well-established facts 
of three-quarters of a century. 

That this may be more clearly seen, let us return to first prin- 
ciples, as they are admirably stated by the distniguished Commis- 
sioner in Lunacy for the State of New York, both lawyer and phy- 
sician, and Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the Law-School 
of Columbia College, New York. In his work on the Judicial 
Aspects of Insanity, is the full elaboration from which the follow- 
ing excerpts are made : 

He reminds us with fine effect that 

*' All positive knowledge of insanity has been derived from the 
labors of physicians, who have been able to treat it successfully only 
in proportion as they have treated it as a disorder associated with 
disease of the bodily organs." — Ordronaux, Judicial Aspects of In^ 
sanity, Introduction, page 19. 

''In medicine, insanity means an established and prolonged de- 
parture of an individual from his natural mental condition, arising 
from bodily disease, and not the immediate consequence of self-pro- 
duction." — Page 26. 



36 TRIAL O:^ THOMAS JAMES DEJARISTETTE EOR HOMICIDE. 

Dr. Ordronanx quotes the following admirable expression from 
the bench : 

"If," says Judge Doe, in State vs. Pike (49 N. H. 441), "the 
tests of insanity are matters of law, the practice of allowing ex- 
perts to testify what they are should be discontinued ; if they are 
matters of fact, the judge should no longer testify without being 
sworn as a witness, and showing himself to be an expert. * * 

" But the precedents require the jury to be instructed in the new 
medical theories by experts, and the old medical theories by the 
judge."— Page 22. 

Dr. Ordronaux says emphatically : 

" Insanity being always a question of fact is not amenable to any 
legal test. * * * The only question which the law can 
consider in relation to it, is the part which it plays as an involun- 
tary instigator of human conduct and a controller of moral liberty." 
— Judicial As2)ects of Insanity, page 28. 

"No lunatic is wholly without reason. In the midst of lunacy 
the logical operations of the mind, thougli disturbed, are not nec- 
essarily extinguished. There is a constant juxtaposition of reason 
with unreason, each crowding the other in turn out of the chair of 
government." — Page 31. 

"It must be self-evident that no particular kind or degree 
of delusion constitutes insanity. As minds vary in original 
power and scope of reasoning so their action, when disordered, will 
follow in some measure the limits of the mould in which they have 
habitually exercised themselves." — Page 33. 

" No single symptom 2^er se constitutes absolute proof of insanity. 
Symptoms must be grouped, and it is only by a differential compar- 
ison of the present and past states of the individual mind that 
we can deduce any definite conclusions as to its departure from a 
state of sanity." * * * * — Important. 

"A knowledge of right and wrong is possessed by the majority 
of lunatics as a class. Its absence is exceptional. It cannot, there- 
fore, be any test of their power of controlling their conduct, any 
more than of controlling their disease. 

"They are always under some form of mental duress while their 
disease lasts ; and the only test of their criminal responsibility i 
their capacity to choose not to do an act to which they are impelled 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARIiETTE FOJl HOMICIDE. 37 

by disease, coupled with tlie power of enforcing obedience to that 
choice." * * * * Paae 34. 

The following cases are referred to in illustrations of principles 
stated. (People vs. Kleini 1 Edm. S. C, n. p. 34 ; Comm. vs. 
Haskell, 2 Brewst., 401 ; Stevens vs. State, 31 Ind., 485; State vs. 
Felter, 25 Iowa, G7.) 

The author discusses the vexed question of the legal limitations 
of insanity in a spirit of calm but clear and effective reasoning. 

''It must be evident to all that since insanity is confessedly a 
question of fact; a physical condition with mental coefficients 
whose value is changeable, and whose weight, as proofs, is the re- 
sultant of averages struck by competent observers— it must be evi- 
dent that insanity at law can have no more limitations put upon its 
meaning than the recorded history of its phenomena can justify." 
— Ibid, page 400. 

The danger of wrong doing in the attempt to draw lines of legal 
responsibility between partial and total insanity is well exhibited in 
the case of Montgomery (13 Abb. Pr. N. S.) 222, in which Smith, 
P. J., in charging the jury, said : 

"Insanity is a kind of generic word, and includes various de- 
grees of diseases of the mind. There are degrees of insanity, in 
some of which there is no mind left. In other degrees there are 
lucid intervals. There are persons who are afflicted with dementia, 
which, as I understand the testimony of the physicians, is a grad- 
ual impairment or enfeeblement of mind. If that is what they 
mean, and such I understand to be the view of Drs. Gray and 
Moore, it is for you to say whether that degree of insanity had so 
far progressed with the defendant as to deprive him of the knowl- 
edge of the quality of his act." And subsequently, onlcertiorari 
of the same case at the General Terra j Mullin, P. J., said : 

"While I am of the opinion that, for some days before the kill- 
ing, the prisoner was partially insane, and at some times during 
that timCj more so than at others, there is no evidence that he was 
not capable of distinguishing right from wrong at any time between 
noon on Saturday and the commission of the crime. Indeed, we 
might go further, and say that at no time, except when he was in 
one of the epileptic fits, is it proved that he was incapable of dig* 
tinguishing right from wrong." 



38 TKIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARKETTE FOR HOMICIDE^ 

And the conviction with the sentence of execution would have 
added another to the long line of judicial murders but for the in- 
tervention of the executive upon the advice of a commission of 
medical experts. Montgomery has for years been confined in the 
asylum for the criminal insane at Auburn, New York, and his irre- 
sponsibility has long since been demonstrated and admitted. 

Prof. Ordronaux says justly : 

"The following considerations commend themselves to our sense 
of justice :" — Page 404. Says Prof. Ordronaux : 

" When a man is admitted to be partially insane, all presumptions 
should be against his capacity to regulate his conduct as sane men 
do theirs. And every doubt should be construed in his. behalf, be- 
cause he cannot be considered any longer as a free moral agent."— 
Judicial Aspects of Insanity, pp. 404-5. 

"In the People vs. McFarland, (S Abb. Pr. [N. 8.] 57), it was 
held that the prisoner must not only know that the act is unlawful 
and morally wrong, but must be deprived of reason sufficient to 
apply such knowledge and to be controlled by it. The power of 
distinguishing between right and wrong in reference to the act, is 
not alone decisive." 

"Although," Dr. Ordronaux remarks, •'the effect of these ju- 
dicial advances was swept away in 1878, in the case of Flanagan vs. 
the People, (52 N. Y., 469), reverting to legal tests which are of 
the past, yet in many States, jurisprudence is being improved by 
the light of modern knowledge, as evidenced by (State vs. Jones 
50, K H., 370; Stevens vs. State, 31, Ind., 485 ; State vs. Felter, 
25, Iowa, 67; Anderson vs. State, 43, Conn., 514.) 

" The attempt to establish a legal test of insanity, founded on so 
variable a sympton as delusion, is another illustration of the con- 
fusion into which the effort to set a legal boundary around the op- 
erations of a physical law always eventuates. Such errors belong 
to the infancy of knowledge in any particular science."— /Z»irf, 
page 419. 

" In Queen vs. Pate, Dr. Conolly, the very highest authority in 
Europe at that time, testified that the prisoner was of unsound 
mind, but that he did not suffer from any particular delusion, and 
that he was well aware that he had done wrong and regretted it."— 
Page 423. 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 39 

*' It is unfortunate that courts should maintain a contest with 
science and the laws of nature upon a question of fact which is 
within the province of science and outside the domain of law." (Per 
Doe J., in Boardman vs. Woodman, 47 IS^ H. 150).— Page 423. 

"The knowledge of right and wrong is common in all forms of 
mental unsoundness outside of idiocy and dementia. All experts 
in insanity affirm this, and it has also been put upon record in the 
most emphatic manner. Thus : At the annual meeting of the 
British Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals 
for the Insane, held in London, July 14, 1864, at which were 
present fifty-four medical officers, it was unanimously 

Resolved, " That so much of the legal test of the mental condi- 
tion of an alleged criminal lunatic as renders him a responsible 
agent, because he knows the difference between right and wrong, is 
inconsistent with the fact, well known to every member of this 
meeting, that the poiuerot distinguishing between right and wrong 
exists very frequently among those who are undoubtedly insane, and 
is often associated with dangerous and uncontrollable delusions." — 
—Page 423. 

"There are states of mental catalepsy in which the will cannot 
act, although the perception be perfect. The knowledge of right 
and wrong may be good enough but the power to choose may be 
paralyzed. If these states can be shown to result from permanent 
mental disease, why should the law refuse to recognize them ?" — 
Page 426. 

Our great English authority is equally explicit in discussing in- 
sane delusion. So far as the justification of the act is concerned, 
by the nature of the delusion with which it is connected, Taylor 
says : 

" Much stress was formerly laid upon the delusion heing connected 
with the act, in cases of alleged insanity; but it must be remem- 
bered that, except by the confessions of insane persons during con- 
valescence, it is not easy for a sane mind to connect the most sim- 
ple acts of a lunatic with the delusion under which he labors. 

" Every act of homicide perpetrated by a really insane person is 
doubtless connected with some delusion with which he is affected ; 
but it by no means follows that one who is sane should always be 
able to make out this connection, and it would therefore be unjust 
to rest the responsibility of an accused person upon an accidental 
discovcrv of this kind. 



40 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJAENETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

'•' Cases elsewhere related show how difficult it is to connect the 
delusions of the insane with their acts. (Page 483, ante.) 

"Lord Erskine's doctrine in Hadfield's case, that, in order to ren- 
der a person irresponsible the act should be traced to the delusion, 
is therefore, medically speaking, untenable. The connection of a 
delusion with an act, when it can be really traced, may serve to ex- 
culpate an accused party, but the non-establishment of this connec- 
tion proves nothing." 

Again, he suggests the true test : 

" Each case must be determined by the circumstances attending 
it ; but the true test for irresponsibility in all doubtful cases appears 
to be, whether the person at the time of the commission of the 
crime had or had not, a sufficient power of control to govern Ms 
actions, or, in other words, whether, knowing the act to be wrong, 
he could not avoid tlie perpetration of it. This involves the con- 
sideration, not only whether insanity existed in the accused, but 
whether it had reached a degree to destroy, not a consciousness of 
the act, hut volition — the will to do or not to do it. * * * 

"If he was led to the perpetration of the act by an insane im- 
pulse, or, in other words, by an impulse w^hich his mental condi- 
tion did not allow him to control, he is entitled to an acquittal as 
an irresponsible agent." * * * # ^ — Page 575. 

"Want of self-control is one of the most marked features of in- 
sanity. According to Dr. Radcliffe, it is a symptoi;ii in all cases, 
and what is important in reference to responsibility, is that in the 
order of development it takes precedence of delusion. — Taytor''s 
MedicalJurisprudence, Vol. 2, 576, 

Again : 

" Most medico-legal writers agree that the best test for fixing re- 
sponsibility on a person who has committed a crime is whether, at 
the time of its commission, he had or had not a sufficient power of 
control to govern his action. This view has been more or less advo- 
cated by Esquirol, Marc, Ray, Pagan, Jamieson, and other writers 
on the medical jurisprudence of insanity."— Page 577. 

"In thecaseof Mrs. Brough (Guilford, Summer Assizes, 1854), it 
was proved that the accused destroyed six of her children by cutting 
their throats, and then attempted to destroy herself. She was 
acquitted on the ground of insanity, althougli there was no proof 



TKIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 41 

of mental derangement. These cases may be regarded as present- 
ing fearful examples of that state which has been called homicidal 
mania, in which there were no previous symptoms of intellectual 
aberration amounting to insanity in the common meaning of the 
term, or of any irregularity of conduct on the part of the homicides 
to justify the interference with their civil liberty. A uniform fea- 
ture of these cases was, that the murderous act was directed against 
those who were most closely connected with the homicides in blood, 
and to whom they were attached by the tenderest ties." — Page 579. 

" There are cases in which the force of circumstances compels a 
court to adopt practically the theory of homicidal impulses, as the 
following case, Reg. V. Jordan (Lewes Summer Assizes, 1872) will 
show. Tiie prisoner was indicted for the murder of a child, whose 
throat he deliberately cut. There was no motive ; he had previ- 
ously borne an excellent character, and was very fond of children, 
but there was no evidence of mental disorder or intellectual insan- 
ity. His wife had deserted him some time before, and he had fallen 
into a state of great depression." — Page 588. 

Martin B. is reported to have said : 

" Under snch circumstances it was for the jury to consider wheth- 
er it would be safe to convict the prisoner of murder. When such 
impulses came upon men, according to the medical evidence they 
were unable to resist them. It would be safe in such a case to ac- 
quit the accused on the ground of insanity." 

The prisoner was acquitted on the ground of insanity. 

"In McNaughten's case the theory of the law as laid down by the 
judges, is, that 'notwithstanding a person labors under a delusion, 
if he commits an act wh^'ch he knows to be contrary to law, he is 
liable to punishment.' 

"Yet in that very case, although the conditions requisite to make 
out a case of insanity, as thus defined, were not complied with as the 
Attorney-General showed — "The prisoner was pronouced insane by 
several medical witnesses, and on this evidence the learned judge 
stopped the case, and directed an acquittal, without going into the 
question whether the prisoner was or was not ignorant of the ille- 
gal nature of his act." * * # * 

The test of responsibility assumed by it is purely theoretical, and 
such that it cannot be strictly carried into practice. 



42 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

"With this admission it appears to nie unnecessary to occupy 
space with metaphysical discussions regarding criuiinal responsibil- 
ity : for, however defective the rules, — if the practice of the law 
be in any one case in conformity with that which has been advised 
by writers on the Medical Jurisprudence of Ii. sanity, although it 
may be adverse to the theory on which it is professedly based, this is 
all with which we have to concern ourselves : — the jirinciple is ad- 
mitted. The great def( ct in the England law i.^, not that it will not 
go even to the full extent of exculpating a p-rson who has com- 
mitted a crime with a full knowledge of its illegality, and umler 
what may be called an ' UMCon'rollable impulse', or an impulse 
which his rtason was not sufficient to control, but the uncertainty 
of its application" — Taylor s Medical Jurisprudence. 

These are the wise declarations of the best jurisconsul's and alas 
that uncertainty of application, is but another expression for the 
gallows and the opening grave closing over many a judicial victim, 
even from the time of the unfortunate Bellmgham, to the present 
day ? How many the unhappy men whose deeds of blood weie the 
result of disease over which they had no more control, thun the 
paralytic has upon his wasted limb, or the fevered patient over his 
agonizing pains, how many we repeat of the e sick men. entitled to 
the ministrations of humanity, have been Itari.edly consigned to the 
hands of the hangman ! I need not recount names familiar to tfie 
medico-legal student, that blot the criminal records of nearly every 
State of this Union. 

That insanity results absolutely from physical disease seems to be 
hard to be understood, and yet nothing is more true than that the 
daily advance of medical science but confirms it more a;id m(>re. 

Probably no man in America has had wider advantages of obser- 
vation than Dr. John P. Gray, Superintendent of the New York 
Insane Asylum, at Utica, who has treated thousands of cases of in- 
sanity, and has enjoyed the most complete opportunity for micro- 
scopic investigation of the brain of lunatics, with the aid of the 
best apparatus, and the services of special pathologists, and whose 
labors have received the recognition of the highest French author- 
ities in psychology. He declares in a lecture at Bellevue Medical 
Hospital m 1875 : 

"■ I have never seen a post mortem of the brain of an insane person, 



TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 43 

however recent or tnild the attack, where the m croscope failed 
to reveal lesi^ ns of structure." — Jour. Insanity, Vo'. 31, p. 450. 

The same high authority, while the uncompromising opponent of 
the belief in what is termed m<jral insanity, without intellectualim- 
pairraent, does n.»t hesitate to say : 

"It is true that when minvl does give way, the evidences are gen- 
erally first seen in ihe moral affections." — Jour. Insanity, Vol. 32, 
page 11. ^ 

"In his tablula^ed history of cases in the Utica asylum, he relates 
the case of a parient, who was once an educated man, of gentle and 
acuiable disposition. He became changed in character, neglected 
his work, depressed, morose and irritable. One morning he walked 
out of the house, returned with an axe, and made a murderous at- 
tack upon his parents. Taken to prison, brought to the asylum, 
and subsequen'ly became profoundly demented." — Page 157. 

Dr. Gray points out tliat 

"The mere fact that the psychical symptoms are so marked and 
profound in insanity, is due to its cerebral connection. In cases of 
fever we should not think of classifying according to the nature of 
the delirium, as wo recognize that phenemenon as a mere symptom 
of disturbance of cerebral circulation." — Jour. Insanity, Vol. 39 
page 282. 

Dops this not suggest the farther analogy of the extreme absurd- 
ity of measuring criminal responsibility by the particular relation 
of any delusion to any act, homicidal or otherwise ? 

We should not forget how complex a concept is motive. As ap- 
plied to an ins'ne mind, in even attempting to associate delusions 
with acts, we must bear in mind that motive should be there contra- 
distinguished from the same concept, as applied' to the mind of nor- 
mal sanity. 

An insane mind cannot bring to bear upon an action the same 
elements of motive, or any other mental concept; it cannot con- 
sider events and combine facts in their relative proportions, as 
does the sane mind. 

Just as the chemist shows us that the same number of the iden- 
tical chemical elements may by different groupings of their atomic 
constituents produce the most delicious or the most nauseous and 
poisonous of compounds, so the simplest events in the jumble of 



44 TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

the lunatic brain may assume the protean shapes of delusion unto 
its destruction. 

Prom identical causes, in the insane mind, arise results uncertain, 
fitful and out of proportion — monstrous and misshapen beliefs come 
from want of power to coordinate facts, resulting in deeds that are 
indeed lamentable, but none the less inesponsiule. 

We cannot shut our eyes to thise tiuihs, nor can we construct a 
Procrustean bed. Every case of insanity must be examined inde- 
pendently. No man stood higher as an alienist in Englatid than Dr. 
ConoUy, who says of in-anity : 

"Each case must be carefully considered by itself, with all its 
preceding and attending circumstances. No single text can be 
safely relied upon." — Canolly Lecture,J'jur. Insanity, Vol. 6, p, 300. 

Dr. Conolly points out the danger of quailing before the shame- 
less clamor of the press for blood, and relates the following flagrant 
example of a surretjder of an irresp nsible being to a wild thirst for 
revenge : 

"Not long ago, a boy not quite twelve years of age, took the life 
of his grandfather by mixing arsenic with the sugar which be knew 
he would take with his fruit after dinner. 

" When visited in Newgate, this boy was found to be of .stunted 
growth, with downcast h>ok, face scarred with scrofula, and cnan- 
ner of indifference and insensibility. He was the unhappy son of 
an intemperate and epileptic father, who had died insne. From 
childhood he was shown to be incapable of remorse or shame. The 
medical attendants had previously pronounced him of unsound 
mind. 

"Evidence to show his faulty organization was adduced at the trial, 
but entirely disregarded by the jury, and scotfed at by the judge 
who declared that be rejoiced that a verdict of " guilty of murder" 
was returned. The press applauded the judge, and covered the 
doctors with abuse. If the jury were right, and the triumph of 
judge, was just and decent, the boy ought to have been hanged 
high in the air. But not even the power of the press, ever echoing 
the prejudice of the time, could prevent the exercise of some 
greater power, by which the execution of an insane child was mer- 
cifully and justly prevented. 

* * * * "In the meantime, medical men ought not to shrink 






I 



TKIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARN"ETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 45 

from these cases. The same courage which causes the physician to 
brave the dangers of pestilence, should support him in this duty, 
beneath the assault of pestilent tongues and pens, 

" Not the voice of the people calling for executions, nor the sever- 
ities of the bench, frowning down psychological truth, should shake 
his purpose as an inquirer and a witness. His business is to declare 
the truth. Societ-y must deal with the truth as it pleases." — Lec- 
ture before the Royal College of Physicians in 1849. Publislied in 
Jour. Insanity, Vol. 6, ^;. 305. from the Lancet. 

If it is to be regretted that fintiquated half truths yet govern the 
views of the bench in some sections, such errors are more or less 
inseparable from the conservatism thac pro,perly displayed adorns the 
ermine, but such cannot be said for the display of vindictive feel- 
ing on the part of the prosecuting officer, and especially for its 
gratification by unworthy disparagement of well-settled truths, as 
equally binding in law as in medicine, or efforts to mislead the jury, 
which only serve to strangle the very justice, which he is there the 
sworn officer to defend. 

Certainly its flr.^t attribute should be the ingeniousness which is 
often so conspicuously absetit in that performance of the solemn 
duty of theprosecutor Thus to illustrate : When the attorney in 
the Dejarnette case infortnei the jury that Dr. Hammond was au- 
thority for the idea that "Deliberation takes away the idea of an 
insane act," »s quote i by Dr. Grissom in his book entitled "True 
and False Experts," he failed to tell that jury that on the same 
page, Dr. Hammond was also quoted as declaring that 

" The insane a-e very persistent in their revenge. I have known 
insane men occupied v.'ith the idea of killing their keeper for years, 
and filially do it." 

Dr. Grissom had quoted thciC opposite declarations of an expert, 
in different cases, as unwoithy of medical science, and had stated 
that the former was so uritrue that every alienist would receive it 
with a smile of contempt. 

Yet not a word of this reaches the jury, anxious to know the 
whole truth, from the minister of justice armed with the sword of 
the law, and confronting the victim awaiting his doom at their 
hands. This betrays the tone of the prosecution, and justifies the 
fear that in many quarters our honored sister profession of the law 



46 TRIAL OF JAMES TtlO.MAS DEJAKS"ETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

is be' rayed in the house of iier friends by those who are unable to 
rise to the h>fty plai.e of action demanded by the L*everities of med- 
ico-legal investigation. 

But the day is coming wr en minds fiited by education and train- 
ing will be called to those responsible.' la^iors, and ihey will recog- 
nize that the honor arid dignity of the commonwealth demand the 
cheerful acceptance of the whole truih, and while requiring every 
thing from justice, will scorn to accept anything from prejudice. 

The result of the trial was the acquittal of James Thomas De- 
jarnette, by a verdict of the jury after fifieeu minutes deliberauon, 
upon the ground of his insanity at the time of the commission of 
the detd. 

On the third day thereaf er he was placed in the insane a-ylum at 
Raleigh without order from court under the circumstances, and by 
the wish of his friends. There is no reason to doubt that he was 
not only insane when the homicide was committed, but that hisd s- 
ease has affected his brain to the present time. 

There is a painful reflection tliatduty requires to be made. It is 
the reprehensible course of the press in the wild clamor ma<le against 
the verdict of the jury by editors who did not hear the evidence, 
nor were fitted to pron"unce conclusi ns, any more than to under- 
take any other scientific problem, such for example as analysis in 
the chemical laboratory, or the diagnosis of obs'-ure disease by sur- 
gical manipulation. How far this hasty judgment was justifiable 
may be illustrated by the nature of the attack upon the experts for 
their f-upposed support of the doctrines of "moral insanity" and 
•' emotional impulse," when, in fact, neither expert believed in the 
existence of such things in the sense so vehemently deprecated, nor 
did the consideration of such doctrines form any part of the case 
under discussion. 

It is clear, therefore, that the critics could not have given such 
attention to the evidence as the gravity of the question demanded, 
nor perhaps could it be expected of editors of the journals of 
the day, amid the rushing currents of news and thought, stream- 
ing in continuous flow, and demanding every energy to record and 
discusr. 

Northern papers, and notably in Brooklyn, arraigned the verdict as 
the product of barbarous views of honor and of family pride in the 



I 






TRIAL OF JAMES THOMAS DEJARNErTE FOR HOMICIDE. 47 

South, and I regn t to s .y that while there wereshininj^ exception^ 
some of our own journals spoke of the tragic verities of this tri^l 
in light and careless wi', all Sidly out of place by the side of the 
sister dead in her early gr.ve, whose faults ar.d frailties were per- 
haps an inherirance of the ancestral woe, and 'over the blasted life 
of the ruined boy, who valued eustence so little that he anticipated 
d.-ath, and was eager for the forms of triil to be over. 

It is H healthy instinct which inspires the press to call for justice 
upon one who is a con cinus aid resp.-nsible violator of the law, but 
n is a fit and proper task f,.r the medical journals of the land to 
dissipate baseless and vindictive notions of a rude justice, which is 
unworthy of a people sufTic^e ,tly enl.ghtened to ask and to judge 
before proceeding to condemn nd to execu e. 

The evil of harsh and iMdiscrimlnate criticism dies not with the 
occasion, but it insidiuusly poisons the popular mind, and tends to 
erect barriers to the reception of scientific truth, to d^ter experts 
from their full duty, and to frght^n juries into acquiescence with 
public opinion which may be nothing but public prejudice. 

Have we learned nothing in modern times in every oiher depart- 
ment of medicine ? In the days when the case of Hadfield occurred 
a close room without ventilation, and red cur:ains were deemed by 
most physicians to be essential to th« treatment of smallpox Would 
that he good treatment to-day ? All orher sciences have ad- 
vanced. Would the courts accept the toxicology of even half , 
century ago ? 

Must then the medical expert in insanity, be required to stultify 
h.msel^ and pronounce that to be fal.e which he I as the best reason 
to believe to be rrue ? 

It is certain that in any cuntry under the control of enlighened 
men, the jurisprudence of this subject muse infallibly reflect the 
conclusionsof thn best medical philosophy, and while circumstances 
may delay the result, the force of such medical though', four,ded 
upon constantly increasing observation a-.d corrected by experience, 
will sooner or later mould the expression and correct the errors of 
law. 

The whole history of the common law exhibits the liberalizing 
effect of broader knowledge among medical men, by the reflex of 
changed opinion, as in Erskine as compared with Coke, or Eldon 



48 TRIAL OF THOMAS JA5IES DEJAENETTE FOR HOMICIDE. 

With Hale. Nor has this process ceased to the present day. And 
why should it ? AVho, I repeat, would return to the system of med- 
ical practice <.f a century ago? And why shoald jurisprudence 
turn Hs (ace toward the darkness, while medicine and surgery seek 
the sunlight of knowledge ? 

Let the responsibility be accepted, of declaring wh»t we ehev 
to be true-the issue may be cheerfully left to that power wh.ch ,s 
the fountain of all truth. 






APPENDIX. 



Commonwealth 

vs. y Indictment for Murder. 

James Thomas Dejarnette. 

DR. EUGENE GRISSOM's TESTIMONY. 

Rejjorted hy Col. Wm. D. Coleman, Official Re/porter, Danville, Va. 



Question by Colonel Boyd, Defendant's Counsel : If the state- 
ments of the several witnesses as to the existence of insanity in the 
ancestors of the prisoner and as to his own conduct, acts, and 
declarations preceding, at the time of and since the killing of the 
deceased are proved, and if the jury are satisfied of the truth of 
them, can you, as a physician, form an opinion as to the mental 
condition of the prisoner at the time of the killing of the deceased ? 

A. Yes sir, I can, I think. 

Q. What, in your opinion, was his mental condition at that time ? 

A. I think he was insane. 

Q. What is insanity ? 

A. No very definite or satisfactory definition of insanity has ever 
been given. I mean such a definition as clearly and definitely in- 
cludes all insane and excludes all sane ; on account, I may say, of 
the varied phenomena of its symptoms. / would define insanity to 
be that condition of the mind in which its functions of thought, 
feeling and will are impaired by a diseased brain. 

Q. Under what form of insanity, in your opinion, was the pris- 
oner laboring ? 

A. I regard it as a case of delusional insanity. 

Q. What is a delusion ? 

A. I would define a delusion to be an insane, false idea resulting 
from a diseased condition of the brain. 

Q. Give an illustration ? 



50 APPENDIX, 

A. Yes sir. I hare under my treatment now, and have had at 
tlie in=ane asylum, a number of cases illustrating this mental con- 
dition. One that occurs to me was a Methodist preacher of consid- 
erable intelligence who had a delusion that he was the " President 
of the World" as he expressed it. Another was the case of a young 
lady who thought that she was the wife of the Prince of Wales. 
Another instance that I remember is now under treatment, a lady 
of high character from the town of Hillsborough, N. C, (belong- 
ing to a family whose name is well known, doubtless, to His Honor, 
if I were to call it) who was under treatment, as I have been in- 
formed for a number of years by Dr. Stnbling, dt Stannt'^n, Va., 
afterwards by Dr. Fisher at the insane asylum at Raleigli, N. C, 
and for 1.3 years under my own treatment, who, during her parox- 
ysms belifVt s that she lias committed the unpardonable sin, and is 
in constant dread of being publicly executed at Hillsborough, and 
her two sons to be executed by her side. These paroxysms in her 
case are succeeded by long intervals during whici) time she writes, 
converse3, and acts with perfect propriety, frequently visits and dines 
with her friends in the town of Raleigh, makes visits to her home 
in the town of Hillsborough, and returns to go through the same 
round of disease. On one occasion, I mention in proof of her de- 
lusional state of mind, she sent me a message by my associate phy- 
sician. Dr. Fuller, that she had a desire to kill my little boy and 
begged me to keep him away from her in her walks through the 
grounds. There are various other cases under my treatment that I 
I could mention, but perhaps such long details are undesirable. 

Q. Can you give an illustration in which such a delusion has had 
a homicidal tendency ? 

A. Yes sir, I have under my treatment now, the case of a young 
man from the county of Granville, who was under treatment of my 
predecessor. Dr. Fisher, who was supposed to be well enough to go 
home on a visit, at least, and who, very soon after his re- 
turn home killed his father under the delusion, as I suppose from 
his explanation of the circumstances, subsequently, that it was his 
duty to do so because, as he said, he thought his father was a devil. 
The account of it, as given in court, in my presence, was that he 
concealed an axe and sometime during the night crushed the skull 
of his fathei, cut off his head, cut off both legs, dragged the body 



APPENDIX. 51 

out, placed it under a shelter and gave the alarm himself. I visited 
the scene of the occurrence myself next day after, and saw the man- 
gled remains of his father just as I have described them. He is 
now in the asylum, speaks of the affair occasionally, without any 
apparent emotion or concern. 

Q. What facts testified to by the witnesses, assuming them to be 
found true by the jury, do you base your opinion upon, that the 
prisoner was laboring under a delusion ? 

A. In answering that question I would like to refer to my notes 
of the ttstimony taken on the trial as the testimony was given. 
(Refers to his notes.) First in point of importance to my mind is 
the existence of inheritance ov heredity, very strong on the maternal 
side, probable on the p-riternal side ; change in his personal charac- 
teristics and temperament exhibited by alternate cheerfulness and 
depression ; turns of talkativeness and reticence, and other evi- 
dences of fickleness ; impaired health, and his fickleness about his 
health ; his imaginations about his health ; neglect of business 
witliout apparent cau^e : at^tempting trivial senseless, and imprac- 
ticable inveutions, and expecting large profits theiefrom ; nonsensi- 
cal writings and propositions to print them or publish them ; ex- 
treme wakefulness or i^leeplessness at times, denoting nervous ex- 
citement; entanglement of his business affairs, freight affairs (if that 
be true) ; incoherency of language, talk and other inconsistencies, 
or by these inconsistencies. I believe I have mentioned all that 
occur to me. No, I mention, as influencing my opinion about his 
condition, his conduct at the time of the homicide and afterwards; 
exhibiting no emotion of either anger or remorse, no attempt to 
escape; false idea that such an act would wipe out a family stain 
and retrieve the honor of his father and himself. 

Q What importance do you attach to the liei'edity in this case ? 

A. Very great import mce. Paramount importance in my opinion. 

Q. What is hereditary insanity ? 

A. Bv hereditary insanity is meant the supervention of that dis- 
ease in cases wjiere the susceptibility or diathesis, to use a medical 
term, is transmitted from one generation to the succeeding or to 
succeeding generation--, either direct or intermediate. 

Q. What impor ance does your profession attach to this form of 
insanity ? 

A. G^'nerally very great importance. 



52 APPENDIX. 

Q. Is this the result of your observation and experience in the 
treatment of the insane, and also of your researcii in reading ? 

A. It is of both, sir. 

Q. In the case of a person whose ancestors had been insane for 
several generations would he be likely to escape insmity ? 

A. With a sufficient am )nnt of exciting cause the ch mces would 
be very improbable in my judgment. 

Q. Where tliis susceptibility exists what causes fire most likely to 
develop it ? 

A. Any cauee, or combination of causes, that would greatly 
depress, exalt or sliock the system, especially the nervous system. 

Q. Suppose the prisoner committed the di.ed under the delusion 
that it was his duly to do it, would he most likely express regret or 
remorse for the act, or would he most likely be cool and indifferent ? 

A. I think he would be most likely to be unconcerned and in- 
different. 

Q. Assuming that the facts as testified to by the witi. esses are 
found by the jury to be true, have you any doubt as to the in- 
sanity of the prisoner at the time of the killing ? 

A. I have no doubt of it. 

Q. How came you here as a witness ? 

A. Before tlie last trial in this case I was wriiten to, several times 
by Col. Withers, soliciting my presence, but declined upon the 
ground that I had not been in the habit of at'ending trials as an 
expert, even in my own State, except under subpoena. A few weeks 
ago I was again written to by Col. Withers, making the same appeal. 
I again declined. At the meeting of the Board of Directors of the 
Insane Asylum, on Wednesday and Thursday before this trial com- 
menced on Monday, a resolution was introduced by a member of 
the Board requesting my attendance here, or rather indicating their 
desire that I should attend. The reason given by the member of 
the Board who made the motion was, that all the insane in North 
Carolina were entitled to the sympathy of the authorities of that 
institution, whether inside or outside of it, and that if a citizen of 
the State outside of its borders was insane he was entitled to their 
sympathies. They indicated their desire that I should attend the 
trial, to testify, if need be, in behalf of Truth, expressing their 
confidence in my judgement and honesty in the matter. 

Q. Was any application made to the Board ? 



APPENDIX. 53 

A. Applications were read to the Board previous to the passage 
of the resolution. The r. solution was passed upon these applica- 
tions. More particularly as I understood upon applications from 
counsel for the defence. What other applications I don't know. 

Q. What pay are you to receive for your attendance ? 

A. None at all, sir. I would not accept a dollar if it was ten- 
dered me. I never did receive any pay in any case in which I gave 
expert testimony. 

Q. Suppose a jierson had inherited a predisposition to insanity, 
would great mental anxiety, loss of property, or the honor of one's 
family and loss of other kind be likely to develop the disease ? 

A. They are all exciting causes and would be likely to develop the 
disease in a case of inherited predisposition or susceptibility. 

Q. In cases of insanity is there always a total loss of the mental 
faculties ? 

A. All are impaired, but not necessarily lost. It would be no 
longer insanity proper, but, that form of unsoundness of mind 
called dementia. Tlur in if the facubies were destroyed. By de- 
mentia — I mean a total loss of the faculties of the mind, which is 
(he tendency of insanity generally, if the paticntlives long enough. 

Q In the case of the htdy from ILllsbortiugh mentioned by you, 
were there not times when slie was free from her mania ? 

A. Yes sir, theie was. That is to s.iy that her conduct and con- 
ver-ation seemed to indicate a lucid interval in which there appeared 
to be C'lmparaiive soundness. Such lucid intervals are very 
common. 

Q. In such lucid intervals are the insane capable of giving at- 
tention to their ordinary business affairs ? 

A. Yes sir, I mean to say tha', I have a number of instances of 
that sort under my treatment now. The illustration I mentioned 
of the case of the lady from Hillsborough is a case in point. 

Q. In your observation and reading have you ever known a case 
where the heredity was stronger than in the case of the prisoner ? 

A. I know of no case either of personal observation or on record 
that I regard as stronger so far as I learned its history. 

Q. How long have you you known Dr. Gregory ? 

A. Have known Dr. Gregory since 1SG2 ov 18G3. 

Q. Whaf is his proftssional standing ? 



54 APPENDIX. 

A. He is regarded as an exceedingly intelligent, well posted 
physician 

Q,. With the insane, laboring as you have tlescribed under delu- 
sional insanity, is it common or not, for them to plan details to ex- 
ecute crime committed by them ? 

A. I think it is. They frequently exhibit a good deal of skill in 
planning details. 

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY BLACKWELL. 

Q. Doctor, what are the physical indications of hereditary in- 
sanity and how are they to be ascertained and detected by the expert ? 

A. The indications of hereditary insanity as well as other forms 
are indicated during life by the phenomont, that i:^ to say, the con- 
duct of the patient. 

Q. In what way is the expert lo acquaint himself of these phe- 
nomena, that is to say, with the conduct of the sulferer ? 

A. The best criterion is to compare the patient's prese7iise\l with 
his former self. 

Q. By what means, in what way and under what circumstances, 
is this comparison to be made ? and by what means are the data on 
which this comparison must be based to be ascertained ? 

A. From the history of the case, as detailed by observers. 

Q, Does it not usually require a personal knowledge of the tem- 
perament, habits and conduct of the sufferer, a rigid enquiry into 
the diseases and habits of his ancestry, a knowledge gained by per- 
sonal examination and inspection of the sufferer himself to learn 
whether he has suffered or is suffering with any functional der:itige- 
ment, or with any constitutional diseases ? 

A. To form an opinion quite satisfhcrory to the observer, long 
accustomed to observations of insanity, I take it, requires only an 
intelligent history of the case. To verify to absolute certainty, re- 
quires personal observation. I have admitted into the asylum at, 
Raleigh more than 800 cases upon the history of the case as de- 
tailed, only one of whom up to this time I ascertained afterwards to 
be sane. 

Q. What is the value of evidence detailed as to the insanity of 
the suff- rer by non-medical experts ? 

A. The difference in the qualification between a non-medical ex- 
pert and a medical expert consists in the different qualifications of 



APPENDIX. 55 

the two classes obtained by the latter by study, praciice, and criti- 
cal comparison. The value of the evidence of non-medical experts 
is comparatively very little. 

Q. Would you as a physician be able to ascertain from symptoms 
detailed to you by non-medical persons what physical disease the 
patient was suffering with, and prescribe therefor without a personal 
examination ? 

A. I would prefer a personal examination, but intelligent pre- 
scriptions might be made upon an intelligentdetail of symptoms by 
a non-medical expert. 

Q. If a patient be described to you as suffering with a certain dis- 
ease of the skin which, tiiose describing it, characterized ascr^sifielas, 
do you mean to say that such dtscrijition from non-medical experts 
would enable you to ascertain with certainty tht; true nature of the 
disease and to prescribe therefor ? 

A. If the symptoms detailed were intelligetit and included the 
symptoms generally known to accompany the disease of erysipelas 
to the satisfaction of my mind, I should have no hesitation in pre- 
scribing. 

Q. Yon subscribe then, as I suppose, from your answers, of cer- 
tain New York physicians who send written or printed circulars 
about the country requesting patients to correspond with them and 
describe their symptoms and promising them on doing so a certain 
cure, or at least speedy relief ? 

A. I would not prefer any such practice. 

Q. What is the value of the statements of persons who are not 
physicians and have no personal experience of insanity in its mani- 
fold forms, or even of a physician who is not an expert in insanity, 
in describing the temperainent, changes of manner, change in hab- 
itudes of mind and thought, of a patient supposed to be suffering 
from insanity ? 

A. Every truthful description connected with the conduct, or 
history of the case, whether by an expert or by a non-expert; is of 
importance in coming to a conclusion. 

Q. Is insanity a curable disease ? 

A. It is not always cured — but curable. 

Q. Have you ever known persons of sane mind to be at times 
silent, at other times tflkative, sometimes in high spirits, sometimes 



56 APPENDIX. 

partially or even extremely depressed in spirits, sometimes quite 
wakeful, sleeping little and then sleeping a c^reat deal more. 
At times disposed to be sociable, and at other times disposed to 
withdraw from society and be alone ? 

A. I don't remember at present, such a case, but such a thing 
might be. 

Q If a person such as described in the preceding question were to 
commit aw atrocious crime and on examination into his history re- 
vealed no insanity in his ancestors, would you not regard him as 
insane ? 

A. Upon those symptoms alone I should not. 

Q,. If the supposed enquiry revealed the fact that one of his ances- 
tors, say his grandfather, had been for a short time insane, but had 
returned from the asylum cured, or to all appearance cured, and 
lived for the greaier part of his life without any relapse, and none 
of his descendants had been shown to be insane, would you not 
still regard the one committing the atrocious crime as insane ? 

A. I should not be satisfied to give an opinion about a hypotheti- 
cal case of that sort without enquiry into all the circumstances 
necessary to come to a conclusion, I should want to know more of 
his personal history. I would not judge of insanity by any one sym- 
tom, however common that symptom might be, but by a collection 
of facts embracing enough of his history to come to a conclusion. 

Q. You have stated that when the prisoner committed the mur- 
der of his sister he was the victim of delusional insanity and that a 
fact of paramount importance on which you based this opinion is 
the heredity of the patient. Suppose none of his ancestry had been 
proved to be insane, what would then be your opinion ? 

A. I should not from the other facts, but it might be possible, 
but would not satisfy my mind that he was insane. 

Q. Do you regard it as a scientific fact, well attested and univer- 
sally believed among experts in insanity, that insanity in the parent 
is always necessarily transmitted to the offspring ? 

A. My opinion is that there is no disease in which heredity exerts 
as much influence, as a predisposing cause, as in insanity. 

Q. Do you mean then to say that though that is true in your 
opinion, that there are cases in which the parent does not transmit 
his insanity to his descendant or descendants ? 



APPENDIX. 57 

A. I think there are a great many cases in which insanity itself 
fully develojml is not transmitted by heredity, but that in most cases 
heredity transmits a susceptibility to the disease. 

Q. I understand you then to mean that there are some cases in 
which neither insanity fully developed, nor a susceptibility to insan- 
ity, is transmitted from the ancestor to the descendants ? 

A. I think not, if sufficient exciting causes are brought to bear 
upon the case. 

Q. You believe then, that the susceptibility is always and neces- 
sarily transmitted ? 

A. I think it is. I mean to say that if it is a well established 
case where the heredity is decided, 

Q. What do you mean by heredity being decided ? 
A. I mean to say that where the disease liad been developed 
in the parent, and had not been eradicated or cured either by treat- 
ment or by solution, that is to say by natural causes— expended 
itself — before the act of transmission. 

Q. What is it, I mean what are the facts in this case, naming 
them, that lead you to characterize the supposed insanity of the 
prisoner as delusional insanity to the exclusion of other forms of 
that disease ? 

A. (See answer to question. Examination in chief.) I don't 
mean to say that all the facts detailed by the witnesses are necessary 
to establish that particular form of insanity but many of them do 
indicate it. 

Q. Did not the fact that the prisoner stated that he had com- 
mitted the deed to retrieve his father's honor and his own have great 
weight with you in characterizing his disease as delusional insanity ? 
A. It was one of the factors which brought me to that conclusion. 
Question by the Court. You have said that the prisoner acted 
under the delusion that it was his duty to kill his sister to avenge 
his own and his family's honor ; suppose there had been no decla- 
ration from him that he acted from that cause what would you say 
induced him to commit the act ? 

A. I should say that he committed the acton account of a diseased 
condition of the brain, in my judgment, which so impaired his will- 
power that he was not capable of restraining himself under any 
combination of exciting causes. It was a combination, in my opinion. 



58 APPEXDIX. 

Question by the Court. You mean to say that a man has will- 
power sufficient to determine to avenge an insult or an indignity 
but that he has not will-power sufficient to forbear to avenge the 
insult or indignity ? 

A. I think with a diseased mind acts of great violence may be 
committed by an insane impulse when the will-power is not suffi- 
cient to control the action of the sufferer. 

Question by Court. When a person acts from the dictations of re- 
venge does he act from an insane impulse ? 

A. I think he may act from a delusion in that case. 

Question by Court. Can he not from an insane impulse ? 

A. I think there is a distinction between a delusion and an in- 
sane impulse. I tliink in this case the prisoner acted from a delu- 
sion and not necessarily from an insane impulse. 

Question by Court. Can a man make up his mind to avenge an 
insult, which has in fact been offered him, without having will- 
power ? 

A. I think in diseased minds violent acts are frequently committed 
without any sound judgment at all, merely from impulse. (I use 
the word impulse in its common not its technical application). 

Question by Court. Suppose A who had inherited a predisposition 
to insanity should have his nose pulled by B and should slay 
B how can you determine whether he acted from an insane impulse 
growing out of his diseased mind, or from a voluntary intention to 
avenge the insult offered him ? 

A. It is very difficult to determine motives, but when there is a 
sufficient amount of brain disease to impair the intellectual facul- 
ties, and weaken the will-power, I do not believe that the patient 
could control himself whatever might be his impulse or motives. 

Question by Court. Do you mean to say that in the supposed case 
you cannot tell whether he did the slaying from violent temper or 
from insane impulse ? 

A. I think it would be more apt to be from a weakened will- 
power. (Here witness went into explanation to the Court). 

Question by the Court. Then you do not think a sane man would 
slay another for pulling his nose ? 

A. I do not think a sane man ought to. 

Question by Blackwell. Doctor, do you mean to say that no in- 



H 



APPENDIX. 59 

sane man when laboring under any delusion has sufficient will- 
power to control any impulse that may arise ? 

A. No, sir. That depends, I think, upon the amount, of disease 
and the amount of exciting causes. I don't mean to say that dis- 
ease of the mind is a total loss of brain functions but only an im- 
pairment of their powers, and that it depends upon the amount of 
disease as to what extent that impairment goes. I will illustrate : 
A sick man, feeble man, has not totally lost his vital powers, but 
they are greatly impaired. 

Q. May a man laboring under delusional insanity have sufficient 
intelligence when he has committed a homicide to know right from 
wrong, and what the consequences or results of his act may be to 
himself ? 

A. I don't think that a mere abstract knowledge of right and 
wrong, with weakened will-power is a criterion of insanity. I 
don't think he has a sufficient knowledge of right and wrong in all 
its bearings and aspects to control his action . I don't think he 
knows the consequences and results in the full acceptation of the 
term. I don't think he knows it sufficiently well to appreciate all 
its consequences and responsibilities. 

Q. Do not Doctors Gray, Pinel Ray and Taylor hold, and have they 
not expressed in their works the opinion that the insane, no matter 
what the form of insanity maybe, frequently know well, right from 
wrong, in reference to the particular act they have committed and 
what the consequences of that act may be to themselves ; and have 
they not cited instances where an insane patient has killed his 
keeper and afterwards boasted of the fact that he had done so, say- 
ing, "I know you can't punish me because I'm insane ?" 

A. I think so; but several of the authors mentioned belong to 
that school of scientists which recognize moral insanity a form that 
I do not recognize, as I believe no form can exist without previous 
brain disease ? 

Q. Is not Dr. Pinel in fact the only one of the authors whom I 
have named who recognizes moral insanity, and is not Dr. Pinel the 
inventor or discoverer of moral insanity, and is it not a fact that 
though Dr. Ray inclines to that opinion that both Drs. Gray and 
Taylor repudiate it ? 

A. I think that is correct, I think Dr. Ray has somewhat modi- 



60 APPEKDIX. 

lied his views about it. He is understood in the Association to have 
modified his views. 

Q. Would tlie prisoner, if he were to slay another in his present 
condition, not laboring under the delusion under which yon say he 
was laboring when he killed his sister, have, in your opinion, suffi- 
cient will-power to control his murderous impulse, and would he, 
therefore, be resjionsible for the crime; ? 

A. That depends upon what his present condition is. If his 
present condition is what I think it is, he is now subject to delusions 
and would not be responsible for his acts, if a sufficient exciting 
cause were brought to bear. 

Q. If A who has received from his ancestors a susceptibility to in- 
sanity, is informed by his sister that B and C have slandered her 
fair fame, and in revenge for the insult offered her slays C, but 
spares B because B denies the charge, would you say in that case 
that A had sufficient will-power to restrain his murderous impulse ? 

A. I should not. I wouldn't know in a case of that sort whether 
the sparing B was for the alleged cause or accidental. 

Q. If you cannot know why the sparing of B was for the cause 
alleged or was accidental how can yon know of his lack of will- 
power to restrain the impulse which makes him slay ? 

A. In an insane man I should not know but what both acts were 
the result of disease. 

Q. So that, if an insane man slay another though you knew that 
the failure to resist the impulse is the result of disease, you do not 
know that the resistance to the impulse is the result of disease ? 

A. I think a man with diseased will-power is liable to, and may 
commit any number of acts totally inconsistent themselves. To il- 
lustrate : I see patients every day who seem to attach blame to the 
attendants in the asylum for carrying out orders that I give in their 
presence, and seem to excuse me entirely, and I can't account for 
it. It is certainly not a sane act. 

Q. Do the insane ever have lucid intervals ? if so, define that 
term. 

A. Yes sir, that is rather the rule than the exception, especially 
in some forms of insanity. A lucid interval is the comparative 
quiet that ordinarily follows a paroxysm, and may be illustrated by 
the instance of a man suffering with malarial fever which is ushered 



APPENDIX. 61 

in by a chill, followed by a fever and then by an intermission ; to 
be followed next day or some subsequent period by a repetition of 
the symptoms, having in his system all the time the disease until it 
is cured or eradicated. 

Q. During the lucid intervals of the dclusionally insane may they 
be sutiiciently rational and intelligent to know right from wrono-, 
and to transact the usual business of life as successfully as sane per- 
sons ordinarily do ? 

A, I should not say they do it as perfectly, because the diseased 
brain is all the time excited and its functions all the time more or 
less impaired. But they have much more self-control ordinarily 
than do the paroxysms. I think upon any subject outside of the 
scope of these delusions they have an abstract knowledge of right 
and wrong. 

Q. May an insane person in this condition be sufficiently rational 
and intelligent, in your opinion, to convey away his property by a 
valid conveyance, whether deed or will ? 

A. I think not. According to the laws of North Carolina! know 
he would not. 

Q. While in this condition is he sufficiently rational and intelli- 
gent to plan the details of a crime, and if he have a sufficient will- 
power to execute or carry out his plan, would he not then be re- 
sponsible for crime ? 

A. I don't think any insane man is responsible for crime. 
Q. Do you mean to say that in spire of the fact that the human 
mind may have its faculties impaired in smaller or greater degrees, 
that in no such case of impairment, however slight, the person isor 
onght to be held responsible for crime. 

A. I think the responsibilit}' is in proportion to the amount of 
the disease. 

Q. At what point then would responsibility begin and where 
would it erid ? 

A. I would like to answer your question by asking another ; 
where does daylight end and night begin ? That is an exceedingly 
difficult question to answer. My own rule is, in the government of 
the insane asylum, to be very cautious about restraining for any mis- 
deeds that the patient may commit even in their lucid intervals. 
My experience satisfies me that is the wisest course. 



62 APPENDIX. 

Q. What is the difference between delusional insanity and that 
form of the disease called, I think, monomania ? 

A. Monomania is understood to bs insanity upon om subject or 
class of subjects. 

Q. Has a monomaniac sufficient will-power, in your opinion, in 
other matters than the subject or subjects on which ho is insane to 
render him responsible for crime ? 

A. I think the mind is a unit, and I would not like to decide how 
far a victim of monomania, so-called, was responsible without a full 
knowledge of the history of the individual case. 

Q. Well, then, would you say that Socrates who said he believed 
that he was attended by his Dai man or genius, and who notified 
him daily what would happen to him, was a victim of delusional 
insanity or a monomaniac, and in either case was he responsible for 
crime ? 

A. From what I know of that historic character, and upon that 
statement of the facts concerning him I could not pronounce him a 
victim of either form. 

Q. Suppose a man born and raised in a Christian community with 
no hereditary, taint about him were to say and believe what Socrates 
said and believed, what would you pronounce the condition of his 
mind to be, and his responsibility for crime ? 

A. I could not pronounce upon the mental condition of Socrates 
without knowing more of his personal history and characteristics. 

Q. Dr. Gregory said on yesterday that those acts of sane men, 
when they commit crimes wliich indicate malice, will, deliberation 
and premeditation, were, in reference to persons of insane tempera- 
ment, as he styled it, strong evidences of insanity. Do you concur 
in this with him, or what is your opinion ? 

A. I should have to know the circumstances of each individual 
case before I could pronounce an opinion. If the idea intended 
to be conveyed by tlie question asked by the Commonwealth's attor- 
ney is that crime alone is an evidence of insanity, I dissent. 

Q. Do not experts and alienists, who belong to your particular 
school, approach the investigation of every case in which the in- 
sane are charged with crime, with the opinion, fully formed and de- 
veloped beforehand, that if any hereditary taint be found anywhere 
in the ancestrv of the accused, that the crime itself, with which he 



APPENDIX. g3 

is charged, is a fact of paramount importance in proving that the 
accused must necessarily be insane or have the insane temperament 
and, therefore is not guilty, nor responsible for crime ? 
_ A. /do not. I regard it only as a factor in the aggregation of 
circumstances. ^ 

Q. Was I then mistaken when I understood vou to say, as I did 
hat insanity or a susceptibility thereto was always and necessarii; 
transmitted from the ancestors to the descendants, and that being 
the case, if the descendant committed an offence, it would be be- 
cause of the development of insanity in him ? 

A. I sa^d distinctly in this particular case that the strong case of 
heredity proven was of paramount importance to my mind in com- 
ing to the conclusion that the patient was insane. I said that I 
thought in every case of u n mistakable heredity that there was a trans- 
mission of susceptibility, if the parent were diseased with insanity at 
the time of the paternal act. My position is this : I believe in the 
hereditary transmission, in cases of insanity, of a susceptibility to 
the disease, and that the commission of a crime and the circum- 
stances, under which it was perpetrated and the manner in which it 
was done would be only one of many factors in coming to the con- 
clusion of developed insanity in the accused. 

childrl^ Tf''"'^""" "^ "" ^'"^' ^'"°^" '"^ ^^ ^"^^"^ begets 
childien and dies insane ; none of his children or grandchildren 

are known to be insane ; but A on a certain occasion being spit upon 

by B and kicked down the steps, in revenge for these iifsults slays 

LZr f "-"i ''' '''''' ^'"'^'^^^ ^"'^ -^^^"^ ^bild^^^of the 
grandfather have inherited the susceptibility to insanity ? And can 

you tell U3 also whether you would not consider that the insults 
offered A were exciting causes to insanity, that he then and there 
became insane, and was, therefore, guiltless of crime ? 

A. I think the insane diathesis is transmissible from generation 
to generation, though the links in which the disease in its active 
form never happened to be developed ; and that npon the applica- 
tion of sufficient exciting causes it is liable to be developed. I 
think the insults to A alluded to would be of importance as an ex- 
citing cause. 

Q. State to the Court and to the jury what are tlie physical symp- 
toms or evidences of this hereditary taint of which you speak, and 



64 APPENDIX. 

how do doctors know that the party has it until the insanity is de- 
veloped ? 

A. They can know that he has it only by reasoning by analogy. 
There are no reliable physical symptoms in latent insanity. There 
is something to be judged by a patient's appearance, as well as by 
his conduct generally. If his appearance and conduct are both nor- 
mal then there are no observable symptoms that I know of. 

Q. Do you agree with Dr. Gregory in saying that a judicious sys- 
tem of intermarriages is the only means by which this hereditary 
taint can be eradicated, or to use the expression of stock-brokers 
can be "crossed out" ? 

A. It is one of the means, not the only means, in my judgment, 
to accomplish that purpose. 

Q. So that the hereditary taint will be finally so diluted and dif- 
fused that it will entirely disappear ? 

A. I am afraid not. 

Q. Have you ever made an examination physical or otherwise of 
the defendant, on which you pronounce him insane ? or is your 
opinion based exclusively upon the supposed truth of the testimony 
elicited during this trial, and the adaptation of these facts to your 
peculiar scientific theory or belief ? 

A. I have made no physical examination. My opinion is based 
entirely upon the history of the case as detailed by the witnesses. 

Q. At what time in the course of a family who by a judicious 
system of intermarriages has eradicated the hereditary taint, will 
the nuclei or the nucleoli of the brain, described by Dr. Gregory on 
yesterday change their starlike and irregular shape, and resume that 
of the sphere or the oval of which he spoke ? 

A. I cannot tell at what time. I never heard of a microscopic 
examination of a living brain. 

Q. You state as one of the many facts on which you form your 
opinion the nonsensical writings and romances of the prisoner, and 
his effort to have them published. Do you not know, or did you 
not know, that according to the evidence that the prisoner only 
wrote but a small portion of a romance, submitted some six pages 
of it to the inspection of but one person who within a few minutes 
laid them down and saw them no more, and upon that scrutiny 
alone pronounced them unintelligible to him ? 



I 



APPENDIX. gg 

utcmoZ "°"""^ '^'"" ""' """""' '■™'^' '""" ""*' ^'"'"^ '-J 

Q. Do you also agree whh Dr. Gregory in saying that the fact 
that an attempt to solve the problem of perpetual motion is of itse 
a stroi^g indication of insanity ? 

A. I think it would be one of the factors 

vviHi 7t?"" """"^ '"'"' ""' '"'"""''^ •" ""^ ^"""^ ""'«* coexist 

capable ot analyzing motive. 

Q. Do you mean to say by this that an insane person is incapable 
of having a motive and forming a determination thereon ^ 
tim'w u'f •" '" ^S^^^^^ted case of delusional insanity the vic- 
tim would be incapable of controlling his motives 
Q. Is It not a fact that the deeds of violence which are done by 
e truly insane appear to be so done with an utter absence of all 
discernible motive ? 

A. ISO. I think not sir. They very frequently give excuses for 
those acts of violence Wp f-AU m fi^ i \ \ t^xcuses lor 

^•sfactoiyto.... ^^ ^^'^ ^° ^^^ ^ "motive that would be sat- 

the^hn^r' '"' V'? '^"^' ^"°^' '' ^°" ^y y^^' investigation of 
the^human mind that wherever motive exists, .ill must necessarily 

A. With the sane I think it is. With the insane I think it is not. 
C^,. You are the author of this essay which I have read with so 
much pleasure - True and False Experts" ? 
A. Yes sir. 

BEDIEECT BLACKWELL'S QtlESTIOK " GEAKDFAIHEH OF A *C." 

Question by Boyd. Do you mean to say that when the oflspring 

A. No sir. 

Q. Do I understand you to say that when the offspring commits 

rch o: b'^" '^"^' ".^"'^^ ''' '^'^'^'y -« of^heirrsl 
wnich you base your opinion ? 

A. That is what I have repeatedly said 

Q. Do you mean to be understood as saying that the descend- 



1 



66 



APPENDIX. 



ants of insane pereons cannot commit offences unless insane, or 
that all of their acts are the result of insanity ? 

A. By no means. 

Question by Reid. In this case, if the testimony h>\ true, do yon 
think that the homicide was the product of mental disease ? 

A. I do sir. 

Question by Reid. Do I understand you to say that in delusional 
insanity the patient believes the act he commits is right and when 
he acts under irresistible impulse, he may know the act he may com- 
mit to be wrong, yet cannot resist ? 

A. I have repeatedly stateil that. 



I 



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Dejarnette, James Thomas. 

Report of the trial of James Thomas DeJa 



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